Album of the Day: Sami Baha, “Free For All”
By Sam Goldner · June 07, 2018 Merch for this release:
Vinyl LP, Compact Disc (CD)

For all of its aggressive flexing and blunt, club-igniting power, trap can actually make for surprisingly spacious music. While some of the genre’s most well-known names like Southside and Mike WiLL Made-It are known for their gritty, rat-a-tat drums, they’re just as recognizable for their drifting synth tones, often balancing out floor-rattling bass with a woozy ambience that allows MCs to glide over the beat with a flowing, weightless freedom.

It’s that aspect of trap that feels intrinsic to the music of Sami Baha, a South London-based Turkish producer whose fascination with Southern rap is on full display throughout his extraterrestrial debut LP, Free For All. Raised on underground American producers like DJ Paul and Turkish pop singers like Müslüm Gürses, Baha lets his inspirations run wild throughout these songs, leaping between styles as if he were roaming through levels in an open-world video game. While airy, head-nodding beat cuts like “NAH” and “Limbo” come lined with artificial strings and choirs straight out of a vintage Final Fantasy OST, songs like the title track work largely with negative space, with Baha mixing plinking Turkish melodies and sharp bass hits into a squishy, futuristic sound.

He’s equally malleable with his collaborations, whether he’s tapping Chicago’s DJ Nate on the gleaming drill of “Thugs,” the Egyptian tag-team of Dawsha and Abanob on the hyper-speed Arabesk rap of “Ahl El M8na,” or even Yung Lean on the drowsy cloud rap of “When the Sun’s Gone.” Tracks like these show Baha’s determination to push trap to its outer limits, taking its dreamy textures and buoyant rhythms to new heights, and creating vibrant, zero-gravity club music in the process.

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