Exum, “Xardinal Coffee”
By Chaka V. Grier · June 08, 2021 Merch for this release:
Vinyl LP

It may sound lazy to describe former San Francisco 49ers player, Antone Chavez Exum Jr., as “Andre 3000-meets-Kanye West-meets-Tyler, the Creator,” but on his debut, Xardinal Coffee, they’re apt and tangibly felt influences, all distilled into EXUM’s own sound.

An heir to West’s boundary-breaking approach to truth-telling, EXUM artfully raps on trap opener “Sage the Room” about blatant hypocrisy: “Do whatever you want. But if you show up on Sunday, you’re not on the hook.” On the TV on the Radio-esque “Dark Kept Secret,” EXUM’s raspy vocals reveal his singing chops. “Bad Chick, Bad Dude” and “Wolves Eat Wolves” demonstrate him morphing quickly—this time sounding diabolic and dazzlingly unhinged.

“Just Me and the Bottle” and the funk-disco “Arrest the Dancer” bring the intensity down, allowing EXUM to infuse his humorous side into Rick James-style dance tracks. His tone shifts again on the mournful indie rock track, “The Brotherhood of the Traveling Raf.” It’s a heartbreaking song about the distance success places between one’s future and past—“Here’s my coat,” he sings, “I’ll walk in the rain.” Xardinal Coffee’s unpredictable and dynamic swings are skillful and intentional. They boldly reveal the multiplicity of EXUM, an artist who knows exactly who he is.

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