Vritra, “SONAR”
By Phillip Mlynar · September 08, 2020 Merch for this release:
Vinyl LP

The Inglewood-based rapper Vritra first made his mark in the early ’10s as a founding member of the raucous, wildly successful Odd Future hip-hop collective. Now nearly 10 years into a solo career, his latest album, SONAR, is a reflection from the other side, considering the ways that accumulating money and striking success can often attract false friends. “Where are your friends?/ Who do you love? Who do you trust?” Vritra asks repeatedly on the bluesy mid-album track “FRENDZ.” Across the project, big questions commingle with bittersweet melodies crafted by Leon Sylvers IV, who also produced the pair’s FLOATERS release earlier this year. “I’m after capital and coin/ Rare like veal sliced thin, tenderloin,” relays Vritra with calm coolness over chugging piano and squelching bass on opening track “FRETLESS.” The status brags are quickly balanced by warier sentiments, like noting how the “situation sticky/ The reaper real grippy when there’s cash involved” on “CLOSER TO GOD,” a song with a hook that smartly incorporates steely lines from Mobb Deep’s ’90s thug rap standard “Shook Ones (Part II).”

There’s an earnest back-and-forth between celebrating success and learning to pick up on the signs of impending betrayal that flows throughout SONAR. But by the time of the penultimate, two-part cut “CREEP / TOLYWOLY,” Vritra finds a sense of serenity by merely turning his gaze inwards. “Love yourself today,” he implores in a sincere tone, with his voice swaddled by voluminous bass and the ambient patter of rain. “Try a little bit harder to appreciate the things that have come to pass you/ And maybe one day you will learn to like them too.”

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