uuelz - "#turndaworldup" Review

In the appropriately named ‘#turndaworldup’ emerging New York artist Uuelz continues to cross pollinate genres, blend worlds and convey complex ideas with simplicity, style and substance. Uuelz takes Jerk and R’N’B to new heights- Uuelz posits the question “can we get much higher?” and #turndaworldup delivers a satisfying answer.


I have never been disappointed in a Uuelz release, each new tape breaks the tradition of the last and this tape is of course no exception!. ‘#turndaworldup’ is everything you could want from an underground release- especially taking into consideration just how much collaboration is at the very heart and soul of what Uuelz does. Whether it’s featuring lesser known artists or paying homage to his GOAT’s, Uuelz has his pick of incredible featured artists across genres and talented beatmakers to select from. Within every new Uuelz project emerges a new flow, new style and new themes, but a flavour that’s unmistakably his alone. His style is global but local and current but timeless and refuses to be pretentious or false, even when he’s at his most experimental the swag is always at the forefront. There is an energy that permeates the artists he collaborates with seamlessly and his influence ripples far and wide because of this collaborative spirit and love for the scene.

On the first track WYHA (Feat. Silvva | Prod. Sl4yerr) Uuelz takes the 2001 cult classic “where’s yo head at?” (Basement Jaxx https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5rAOyh7YmEc) and turns the original song on it’s belly to reveal a vulnerable core. In this track Uuelz takes Soulja Boy’s “Haters mad cos I got me some bathing apes” and interpolates it with authority. Uuelz understands that in the original ‘wheres yo head at’ there’s an emphasis on the line “where’s yo head” to express concern from one person to another, while Uuelz’ version tells the story of a person who seems vacant. Loud and brash vocals give a tough love lighthearted browbeating between two friends as one friend is struggling with inner turmoil and self isolation.The message of both the original and Uuelz song is  resolute and joyful, a reminder that friendship endures hardship. Uuelz takes this theme and explores it masterfully. In addition to drawing influence from “Wheres Yo head at?” Uuelz is creating something entirely new and much braver than that:- this song feels like the soft white underbelly of the tape. Uuelz delivers his own version with cutthroat sincerity devoid of the original tracks light and upbeat tone- it's now a party banger of jarring sincerity and emotional resonance. The featured artist Silvva appears at a very organic moment and blends into the song nicely. The mood captured in this moment is so broadly relatable and so under-utilized in music perhaps because most just don’t have the insight Uuelz has. Uuelz is an artist that epitomizes an iceberg, he does a beautiful job demonstrating his emotional depth on this track particularly well. This song has been stuck in my head and it’s no coincidence! The writing is just brilliant and sets the tone well for the entire project. The way Uuelz employs poetic writing devices is magnificent and often overlooked- including how he sources inspiration and interpolates. Uuelz demonstrates a keen understanding of assonance, rhetorical questions, building and releasing tension with enjambment. I swear there is no-one more ludicrously misunderstood or under-hyped in the scene, Uuelz has the technical ability, the know-how, AND most foremost - the swag! 

Track two power ranger pill (Prod. d.a.m ) cuts straight to the heart of the song. The beat swells and pulsates lending to the song's dynamism. It's definitely jerk-but like you’ve never heard it. Dark and intense, brooding yet warm this song is paradoxically cryptic and straight forward. There is a chaos to this track that feels tamed under Uuelz command. The lyrics provoke and convey so many different emotions in rapid succession as the song shifts forward. From the beginning the song has a futuristic dystopian action movie feel, it’s fast paced and yet somehow also quite mellow with a cool confidence. From “Codeine! lean! give me that X!” to “Racks to the ceiling” “I just wanna count bands'' it's a song that says a lot without saying too much.The emphasis can be read as woe or triumph, something Uuelz is adept at utilizing, as well as double meanings and repetition for emphasis. Uuelz allows the listener to pay attention in order for the subtleties to not go over their head, replicating a feeling of rumination. The way the “Power ranger pill” doesn’t tell the audience how to feel demonstrates the beauty of Uuelz writing. The way you can interoperate this scene however you like but with whatever is is that you’re feeling is amplified as the song reaches a powerful crescendo.

In track three “goinkuu” (Prod. SIXTYTHREE666) Uuelz hits us with a triple entendre to decode, with plenty of layers to set the scene for the themes of the song. After some serious deliberation I think it can be ascertained that “goinkuu” is a portmanteau of “going coo” (think coo-coo, crazy) and “goku” (think super saiyan). The candor of the main vocal gives us a baseline for which everything else becomes atmosphere centring it. It definitely takes a few listens to truly appreciate the excellent execution of backing vocals, and for lack of a better word “sound design”. The backing vocals surround you and bounce around the listener, the screeching bats, the complex melodies, the beeps boops and bubbling over of some evil machine - this track has layers in every sense. The sticky hook sits at the forefront of the song and emphasizes the narrator's reluctant confessions. The Silent Hill 2 sample “You don’t seem very happy to see me!” is very cleverly used to levy a high tension and allows the listener to further read into the subtlety of the lyrics. This track relates back to a lot of the themes of track one “WYHA”-the enduring nature of friendship and love as well as overcoming and mastering the self in order to morph into the hero of your own story-seeing your challenges as opportunities to become stronger by invoking imagery of Dragon Ball Z’s Goku. It’s honest and raw watching an artist dare to not spoon-feed their audience or condescend or preach but truly aiming to meet the listener where they are and inspire introspection and optimism in the face of fear. 

Track four “bandz! bandz! dance!” (Prod. enlil) is a mechanistic march that's both highly experimental and highly listenable. This song explores just a little bit of everything thematically that we cover on this tape in a bite sized quantity and delivers hard on catchiness and originality. On this track Uuelz sing-raps in a round resembling the style used in contemporary Brazilian rap complete with the military style snare beats taken and infused with  Jerk and a futuristic R’N’B Vocal delivery. Like many of the tracks on this album it's on the shorter side in terms of track length, which really just makes it all the more listenable. 

Track five “Wait and bleed” (Prod. SIXTYTHREE666) named after a slipknot song of the same title- is a reimagining of both that song and a remix of a song titled wait and bleed he previously released as a separate collaborative track. It's off the walls, unconventional and surreal. The pumping bass and bumping drums dance hyperactivity around the pitched up vocal. This track is definitely avant garde and serves as a palate cleansing interlude before the emotional heavy lifting in the final half of the album kicks in.

In track six “like fabo” (Prod. mdnght) Uuelz makes reference to Snap pioneer Fabo, who has been quoted saying  Snap genre should actually be called “Geek music” something Uuelz has made reference to earlier in the album, as well as within his previous works, but really hones in on paying homage to his roots in this track . Fabo has a song called “Spaceships on bankhead” (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FcaAlL03mz8) from which Uuelz interpolates the line “I’m starting to see spaceships”. Researching this track will send you down rabbit holes of essential rap lore. The bars in this song are clever and understated, it's the delivery and atmosphere that sell the catchiness. Surprisingly catchy but not immediately if you aren’t clued in on the lore, although “Simon says do what i say h**” will live on in your shower thoughts from the jump. This one feels like a quintessential piece of Uuelz lore. 

Track seven “piledriver” (Feat. barlieparker & ljstnn Prod. enlil) is one of my favourite tracks on this project. The song absolutely slaps- there's no other way to describe it. The lyrics are genuinely hilarious! The imagery summoned up in phrases like “quirky little b*tch suck d*ck on a handstand” are gut-bustingly funny, surreal, absurd and daring. The titular phrase “Piledriver pint” summons imagery of a WWE wrestler performing a pile-driver on a pint of lean. Not one dull moment- this song has not one but two featured artists alongside Uuelz. First up is Florida Rapper barlieparker who relays a cheeky verse with plenty of bars in an understated melodic, mellow and breezy free-verse and then secondly Scottish Rapper ljstnn brings some really cool delivery to some very simple but effective lines. Featured artists being sandwiched right in the middle of the song allows Uuelz to lead us in and out of the song with the catchy hook, tying the free and loose format up into a loop. I love this format, it gives the song sections and a free flow simultaneously. Something Uuelz is brilliant for is delivering a song that feels like its both breaking the format and ticking all of the right boxes. The catchy hooks always reign in the most experimental aspects of Uuelz work.

Track eight “hihhh” (Prod. sl4yerr) doesn’t pull its punches, as a matter of fact I have never heard a sadder punchier song. It’s an emotional banger-like Drake who? “When i can’t feel a thing thats when i feel alive, Don’t save me” contrasts lyrics like “It’ll be alright, no one ever really dies” for maximum impact. There is so much conflict and pain in the words but the artist, Uuelz, delivers them so softly so reassuringly. Excuse the pun, but this is a tear-jerker. 

Track nine “Too Much” (Prod. sl4yerr) picks up where track eight leaves off, dusts itself off and carries on. Just the right parts grit and clean, this song just propels itself so beautifully. The beat and the vocal melodies float together divinely and in a completely original fashion. Uuelz gets vulnerable on the track he asks “Fake love and jealousy, who do I trust?” which bears a heavy weight. The repetition in the song serves a trance-like feel and allows the listener to feel the weight of these intense feelings of turmoil and triumph and truly meditate on them, as well as replicate feelings of rumination- something Uuelz has utilized a few times very well on the entire project but does best here. 

The final track ‘can’t feel my face’ (prod. Vinodagrov) demonstrates some beautiful original vocal melodies and highly competent artistry while being one of the more experimental and stripped back songs. ‘can’t feel my face’ touches on a lot of the themes of previous tracks and leaves us at a blurry peak. The delivery is loose and fuzzy lending itself well to the theme of the song and album. There are clever creative choices, like distortion, that really sell the escapism in the song's message. While not as directly emotional as the last two songs the message of the song is both bitter sweet and unmistakably turned up. For Uuelz to have chosen this track as the final message within the project speaks volumes and adds to the overall drama.

‘#Turndaworldup’ is a Jerk album in a sense but in another sense it’s a DIY Punk album and an R&B album and yet much more than the sum of its parts. ‘#Turndaworldup’ is from a real artist with a real emphasis on the art aspect- especially when it comes to pure skill, creativity and the ability to build drama. The beats have been carefully curated and although there is a wide range of producers and three featured artists, it still very much feels like a Uuelz solo project without compromise. Uuelz has a vision that allows the listener to explore their own feelings with a lot of depth while giving triumphant resolution and stick-to-itiveness, taking you to low lows but always leaving you at a high note and sending you on a mind-scrambling ass-shaking journey. The jerk is jerking, the RnB is R’ing and B’ing, and there's plenty of the chemical X that is just the unmistakable Uuelz aura.

There has never been an artist like Uuelz and there will never be another one.  There is truly nothing that sounds like Uuelz and the scene is blessed to have him, rarely is this much swag and insight seen in one place.

Stream #turndaworldup: soundcloud.com/1uuelz/sets/turndaworldup?si=4389d96031df4c29babb4a938b5f0ce9&utm_source=clipboard&utm_medium=text&utm_campaign=social_sharing

Written By Konbini: twitter.com/K0nbin1