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Snack Trax: Music acts Warhol.ss, Abra and Keith Ape embrace psychedelic music genre

Snack Trax: Music acts Warhol.ss, Abra and Keith Ape embrace psychedelic music genre
Screenshot from Warhol.ss –Speed Racer video (YouTube)

It's a little hard to describe the appeal of vaporwave as a music genre. Endlessly looped bits of Diana Ross and slowed-down Japanese commercial muzak isn't exactly Top 40 material.

But visually, vaporwave aesthetics — like VHS filters, random '80s objects and psychedelic colors — have been sneaking their way into music videos for a while now.

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As an example of that trend, here are three tracks that just so happen to have some of the best visuals so far this summer.

Warhol.ss - Speed Racer

(Warning: the following video contains vulgarities)

The wonderful thing about rap in the post-Lil B era is that if you compare yourself to something enough times and with enough earnestness, it starts to make sense (c.f. "Ellen Degeneres"). Perfect example: Most of this song is Warhol.ss insisting that he is Speed Racer, but it ends up being an ode to working hard and playing harder.

There's no hook to speak of. Once the beat drops, it's just two minutes of nonstop energy, bookended by voice samples from "Crazy Taxi."

But the video is what really propels this track into brilliance. Cole Bennett, the director, took the standard mean-mug-the-camera-with-your-squad video format, gave it a heavy vaporwave flavor, and flung it through the Hubble Space Telescope. This might be my favorite video of the summer.

Also, everyone looks like they're having a great time. We need more psychedelic squad dance videos.

Abra — Crybaby

(Warning: the following video contains vulgarities)

If someone asks you to DJ their goth-themed rollerskate jam, this one needs to be in your set list, preferably near the top.

Abra, self-styled "darkwave duchess" and queen of the Atlanta-based Awful empire, is back with an even spookier installment of her '80s inspired aesthetic. The video starts with a VHS filter effect to set a nostalgic tone to match the song, but moves on to some strange choreography in what looks like an abandoned fairground.

Abra makes her own tracks, and this one has the same raw, almost under-produced quality of her other work. It sounds a little like an early 808 State demo tape with echoey vocals, which is definitely a good thing.

Okasian x Bryan Cha$e ft. Keith Ape – Underwater Bank

(Warning: the following video contains vulgarities)

Since exploding onto everyone's radar with the Korean-Japanese trap smash "It G Ma" last year, Keith Ape and Okasian have been appearing here and there on other people's tracks but haven't really taken charge with their own projects.

That seems to be changing this summer, with "Underwater Bank," the first in an apparent series of videos out of the Cohort label. And despite Keith saying he wanted to rap in English, this track is a good 90% Korean.

Visually, the "vaporwave nightmare" dial has been turned down a bit compared to, say, Keith's old work, but there's a subtle solarization effect to bring out those oh-so-necessary purples and blues.

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Don't miss Okasian sneaking in a cheeky "It G Ma" reference near the end of his first verse.

Snack Trax is an occasional column offering bite-sized descriptions of a few songs you really ought to be listening to. If you've got suggestions for a future installment, let me know.

Follow me @dexdigi for more on the intersection of culture and the Internet.

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