Photo courtesy of ShotByCones
Among hip-hop’s buzzing underground scene, there were a handful of voices that asserted their artistic dominance in the latter half of 2022.
From Opium‘s Destroy Lonely and Homixide Gang to the fresh-faced leaders of New York drill, Ice Spice and DD Osama, Internet Money’s Rich Amiri has been one to watch — not only in the pluggnb wave or on TikTok, but among our entire generation.
As we’ve just freshly dipped into 2023’s waters, Amiri is almost ready to make his next big splash. Since the summer of 2022, the Boston native has been diligently, but quietly crafting his upcoming studio album titled Evolution. Now, after tweeting on New Year’s Eve that “the album finished,” it appears that preparations are being made for the official release — calling it “The Calm before the Storm.”
When speaking with him via video call in November, Amiri unveiled numerous details about Evolution, such as its imminent arrival and the producers involved. But, even he could not put into words how impressive of a tape it is. “It’s coming very, very soon,” he said. “It’s fire, I don’t know what to say, it’s just so hard. I don’t know exactly when but it’s coming pretty soon. Just gotta perfect it.”
On Jan. 11, Amiri announced that his “Evolution Release Party” will take place in his home state of Massachusetts on Feb. 3, the first Friday of next month. This detail lends to him potentially dropping the LP on that day or around that time, which means we are only weeks away.
All throughout last year, Amiri was focused mostly on feeding his fans, regardless of the sound, sub-genre or streaming platform. After putting out his debut project For The Better in June, produced mostly by maajins and Internet Money‘s Taz Taylor and Rio Leyva and including features from peers like SSGKobe and Summrs, he began to go on a thrilling run of singles.
With each release being more electrifying and sounding vastly different from the rest, songs like August’s “Can’t Die,” September’s “Dirty Money” and October’s “Keep All That” set in motion a thunderous wave of momentum for Amiri. Experimenting with high-pitched sung vocals, blissful harmonies and an array of production ranging from cloudy R&B to synth-heavy trap, his arsenal of sonic weapons began to expand. The only thing that any of these tracks had in common, though, were their producers and their method of release.
“I always want people talking about me, I always want to feed them, always want to give them something to listen to. It’s not even really stuff that’s gonna sound like what’s on the project though. Just stuff to keep ‘em fed.”Rich Amiri to OGM
What made this streak of solo releases especially unique is that Amiri would first upload these songs to SoundCloud to essentially test the waters and gauge fan interest. Then, if enough intrigue and excitement were built around the cut, off to DSPs it would go. This was also a clever way for Amiri to work around samples he used on some of these bops, even if clearances weren’t available when it came time to officially release them.
“Usually those songs are sampled so I can’t really upload it,” he said. “But if it’s been doing good I’ll probably just take the sample part out and just upload it, even though it may not hit the same. But it’s like, f**k it.”
The instrumentals that these fans fell in love with during this stretch were all produced by either Taz Taylor or Rio Leyva, as Amiri and Internet Money have built an unbreakable bond. What’s astounding about this connection and cohesion, though, is that it allows for the IM hitmakers to lob a plethora of diverse beats up to Amiri for him to feast on.
“All credit to the producers, for real. It’s just about input. It’s not like they’re producers like others who only make one type of genre or something like that. They really do everything. Versatility is never an issue when you got a producer that can do everything.”Rich Amiri to OGM
Looking ahead to Evolution, Amiri made it clear that he wanted to change very little about this process. Staying in rhythm with Internet Money and keeping most of the music containing solely his vocals, he explained that the album will have very little, if any, features and tons of instrumentation from IM’s Leyva.
“Mostly a lot of it is produced by Rio, but I got a lot of different producers on there too,” he said. “The songs are really good so I don’t really feel like I gotta force a feature to make people listen to the project. I feel like it can stand out by itself even if I don’t put any features.”
While it’s clear as day that Rich Amiri matures and grows with each new single he puts out, his impending album will absolutely be the most epic signifier of his stunning Evolution up to this point.
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