Zackthevillain is an up-and-coming artist from Sacramento, California. He just released his brand new single entitled, “Nightmare”. Zackthevillain is not the first artist to combine emo and rap. Anyone who grew up in the late 00’s will be able to recall the period when certain acts popularized crunkcore, a genre that blended Southern hip hop and Warped Tour screamo into absolutely terrible music for kids. But whilst crunkcore is laughably ridiculous, Zackthevillain is making his approach with a diverse and introverted approach, combining booming bass with warm keys and affecting instrumentals. The mixture of emo and rap also carries over into Zackthevillain’s lyrics and vocal performance. His style on “Nightmare” entails equal parts druggy haze and heartbreak.
His vocal performance also reflects the sentiments he raps about: sometimes stagnating and draining, sometimes severe and powerful. It’s a compelling way to convey his emotions. There’s something about this slower cut. The keyboard sound and the trap drums, coalescing into a lo-fi march.
As somber as it sounds, it’s almost as if there’s some spirit in the words over the beat, some braggadocio, some remnant of confidence. It’s not winning confidence, it’s not happy-ending self-esteem; it’s acceptance. Acceptance and self-assuredness in a state-of-being. It’s why every syllable, every bar sounds just as heartfelt as it does devastating.
It’s part of you and you know it is, and you know it’s not going away. There’s something to be said for that stability, that notion that nothing is getting better and you might as well just wallow. It’s what “Nightmare” seems to be built off.
This desolation and heaviness carries over to the production; the speaker blowing bass is claustrophobic, each throb feeling like a blow to your stomach. The aforementioned keys shimmer, lamenting the memory of what once was, and what now is. The drums are somewhat reserved, letting Zackthevillain find his own rhythm and flow, which ends up being very stream-of-consciousness-like.
Zackthevillain introduces an exciting blend of trap flavored hip-hop mixed with classic emo music and sometimes punk, that will instantly polarize audiences. This is an interesting and important step forward for the development of contemporary hip-hop.
In essence, the beat on “Nightmare” is representative of Zackthevillain’s general sound. Moody, emotional, but all the while never losing the bass heavy feel of modern hip-hop songs. Atmospheric and compelling, and still heavy hitting all at once, the instrumental should attract a fan base even before Zackthevillain layers his affecting vocals on top of them.
All in all, Zackthevillain crafts an exciting fusion of rap and classic emo music. Remembering that this is only the beginning of his career, it serves as an excellent first step to whatever may come next from a new artist pushing the boundaries of contemporary hip-hop. Approach this with an open mind.