148 “Sampati” (LP)

Splicing a drill-style vocal attack with a coarse bassline, 148’s “Odds” immediately feels like one of the more assaultive hip-hop tracks you’re going to find on record store shelves this spring. That said, it’s one of nine stellar listens on 148’s debut album Sampati, which is currently getting a lot of attention around the world on the strength of its experimental frills, unassuming star-quality verses, and stealthy grooves of the most surreal variety. Sampati dabbles in a bit of everything, from melodicism in “Pop It” to postmodern hooks ala “Wavy,” and I can vouch for its buzz-worthiness as a critic and avid hip-hop fan.

“MIA” is one of the more exotically arranged works on this record, but it doesn’t overshadow the more simplistic structuring of “Body Rock” at all. Contrarily, I think the contrast between the compositions in Sampati is one of the greatest qualities the tracklist has going for it because we’re truly getting a good feel for the depth this act has without their having to overstretch their artistic abilities. They’ve got plenty of time to grow into this sound, and at the moment, what they’ve got is accessible to pop and hip-hop consumers the same.

“Topeka Vibe” is the star single here, and it makes sense when embracing its casual beat and immersive music video. Where some would have gone with a more rigid construction for the hook in this track, 148 are letting the fluidity of the verses set the tone for the groove, which eliminates a lot of the pressure off of the backend of the mix. It’s a formula that works out especially well for this single, as well as the club-ready “Summer Breeze,” which feels like another natural candidate for a music video at some point in the near future.

Though there isn’t a lot to the foundations of “Luv 4 U” “or the Hod-featured “Bankulli,” they tell us just as much about the ambitiousness of this act as any of the other material on the record does. Truth be told, I really appreciate the diversity of the content on Sampati not only because of how well it all mashes together, but because of what it showcases for 148, whose versatility ends up being one of the greatest points of interest throughout the whole of the LP. It’s a bit outside of the box more than it needs to be, but in this age of alternative hip-hop ruling the underground, experimentalism needs to be the name of the game here.

148 has a long way to go before they’re going to be on top of the mainstream the same way some of their influences have been, but for what their obvious goals were with Sampati, they really hit this one out of the park. Sampati develops a menagerie of melodies

and verses that change speeds enough times to give us a really good idea of this pair’s depth, and it shouldn’t take long before it’s followed by a proper successor worthy of this group’s moniker.

Garth Thomas , posted by Mark Druery