On the surface, rap and vaporwave make strange bedfellows. Dig deeper, though, and similarities start to emerge: both genres are concerned with image and illusion—often obscuring the uglier side of life behind a facade of materialism. That’s one of the primary concerns of the groundbreaking Midnight Run, the long-awaited collaboration between vaporwave-pioneer Vektroid and Houston rapper Siddiq. The album is not without precedent; In 2013, Siddiq released two vaporwave-inspired LPs on Illuminated Paths. But Midnight Run feels more fully fleshed-out than either of those efforts, clear and cohesive.
Siddiq displays both charisma and laser-like focus on dreamy, aqueous cuts like “Overture” and the warped, stuttering “Fly Shit,” where he boasts of his lyrical prowess over Vektroid’s queasy instrumentation. Throughout Midnight Run, Siddiq is conflicted, grateful for success but fretting for the, “people who ain’t making it.” Vektroid’s hallucinogenic production recontextualizes his sentiments; the synthetic instrumentation and pitched-down vocals make his posturing seem artificial, but the underlying concerns very real.
What can’t be faked on Midnight Run however is the sheer quality of the music. As with the best collaborations, both artists bring out strengths of the other; Siddiq elevates the human element of Vektroid’s otherworldly electronics, and Vektroid accentuates Siddiq’s philosophical side. “Don’t believe what you see,” Siddiq warns on “Overture.” It’s in the middle ground between artificiality and sincerity, illusion and reality that Midnight Run finds success.