As we grapple with a year marked by cultural turmoil, consumers seek out media that transports us to a more carefree time. Endlessly affable rapper Duckwrth answers this call with SuperGood, the South L.A. native’s second full-length album after 2016’s I’m Uugly and a slew of critically acclaimed mixtapes and EPs. Recorded in the first few months of 2020, SuperGood is a tantalizing yet wistful effort, captivating listeners with the prospect of what this year could have been.
The album plays out like a whirlwind California summer, a breathtaking metamorphosis that shifts from partying to pining and back. “Money Dance” combines a glitchy breakbeat with a cheerleader chant, while “Too Bad” is a gauzy ’70s groove kept taut by Duckwrth’s lovelorn falsetto. The contrast between songs is exhilarating rather than jarring, with fadeouts featuring swooning strings and layered choruses.
While Duckwrth exudes charisma on his solo songs, the album’s collaborations are its most thrilling moments. “Coming Closer” sees the rapper team with vocalists Julia Romana and G.L.A.M. to trade flirty, carefree quips. The zenith of SuperGood is the more subdued “Super Bounce,” featuring Atlanta up-and-comers EARTHGANG. The track, a spacey reverie accented by Johnny Venus’s relentless rhyme stacking, adds a much-needed serenity to the middle of the album. “Always smoke the indica cause your brain needs a break,” muses Venus in one of his verses.
SuperGood gets a second wind around “Weekend?” and “Tuesday,” the album’s festive twelfth and thirteenth tracks. The cheery sentiment continues with “World on Wheels,” an homage to Los Angeles’s roller disco scene. “All the girls want to skate with me,” brags Duckwrth over a sticky-sweet guitar lick.
Chatty interludes pepper the album, remnant of new-millennium pop-rap releases like TLC’s FanMail or OutKast’s Stankonia. Between the first two tracks, Duckwrth asks a crush out over the phone. In “Jean’s Smoke Break,” featured vocalist Jean Deaux recounts a hectic workday while rolling a blunt and turning the radio dial. The slice-of-life nature of the skits ground the otherworldly musical content of SuperGood, adding an acute relatability to the record.
“It’s definitely taking a lot of the different sounds and textures of the past and bringing it to modern day,” said Duckwrth in an interview with Spin earlier this month. “But these are all the sounds I fell in love with…I just want to be that person, the catalyst.”
Despite SuperGood’s palpable retro energy, though, the album is novel and refreshing. Duckwrth is carefree and goofy, challenging the sobering events of this year. The sheer joyfulness throughout the record acts as a welcome grin in the face of suffering. In the whimsical world of SuperGood, uncertainty and bliss coexist –transporting the listener to summer’s most spellbinding scenarios.
Liv Collom is a .WAV staff member, they wrote the article. Image Credit: SuperGood Cover Art