Two heads are better than one and when it comes to rap, the coming together of the producer and the rapper has mostly proven to be a sensible path to creative clarity and growth.
Charlie X and Paybac are two young talents who have worked their way from total obscurity to decent recognition for their collaborations and consistent output over the years.
The producer is responsible for two body of works within a week with his contributions to Boogey‘s ”Never Enough” project and he again brings his magic to bear collaborating with Paybac on this latest effort, ”Autopilot.”
Paybac is some form of a mystery as an artist and the more I listened to his new work, the more my mind kept drifting to one fateful night in 2015.
Having encountered his music in 2014 on the ”Broken Speaker Symphony” tape, I was opportune to see him at an event the following year. Paybac had been advertised to perform and he was hyped for the event.
As I sat anonymously observing proceedings on the night, Paybac kept pacing around like he needed the constant movement to contain the energy within him, he could not wait to go on stage.
This was his night and he had prepared long for this. He was among the first to arrive at the venue, hours before the show was set to kick-off, he was not about to leave this to chance.
After quite a long delay for close to four hours past its scheduled time, the concert eventually kicked off and it was only a matter of time before he got called on stage. ”I have been rehearsing for the last two weeks for this night,” I heard him say to a friend.
But unknown to Paybac, the venue had been booked for a stipulated time and even as the show progressed, they began re-arranging the venue for the night’s other event and as such a number of performances had to be cancelled and sadly that of Paybac was one of them.
I remember vividly leaving the venue with a few friends and we met the rapper outside distraught, eyes swollen with tears and quite broken, and when he released his sixth project in four years, ”The Biggest Tree” earlier in the year, also his most personal offering, the message resonated more with me having seen that side of him.
Paybac talked about issues like depression and continuous inner struggles, even making a veiled reference to events similar to what happened on that fateful night.
Three years after that incident, he teams up friend and frequent collaborator, Charlie X on ‘Autopilot’, my first listen of the tape gave me a feeling of someone who has finally turned a corner and who is taking a different view of life as it happens around him.
”Autopilot” opens with the hyperactive ‘Gas’ featuring ODC. Paybac’s drawl-infused singing makes a return, his voice sounding like one dipped in the right amount of reverb as he proclaims, ‘He gats blow’.
ODC goes more distinct with his bars and his delivery provides a pleasant compliment to Paybac’s verse.
‘Flight Mode’ featuring Djaji Prime is the tape’s ‘Hallelujah’ moment and the soothing anthem to Paybac’s present musical influences.
The song burns bright with an atmospheric bounce as Paybac goes off with some sublime delivery demanding you call his name right.
Djaji’s verse sits right with the mood of the song, providing a strong showing from the debutant. This joint is addictive with its uplifting instrumentals and you can picture him performing this at show and getting a wild respond from the crowd.
”Y’all could never understand how I got a cult following when I ain’t never blend.”
I was curious to why Paybac would choose to name a record after the Nigerian born international jeweller, ‘Chris Aire’, and it was intriguing to see his vain personality come to play as he compares himself to Chris Aire. Weed and wasted vibes are all the song is about.
‘N.C.B.T’ sees Paybac let a lot out his chest in one of the project’s most lyrical moment while Jazzz brings light to his dark thoughts. ‘U Luckee’ opens the second half of the project continuing in the same vibe and ‘Ground Up’ with Gigi is another personal favourite.
On a mellow beat, Paybac goes on a journey down memory lane as he references songs and moments that have shaped his life.
‘Long Kiss Goodnight’ is another of those sober songs that allows you into his thoughts and how dusky his past relationships have been. The tape comes to an end with ‘Energy For Life’ and it feels good to again close on a happy note as the instrumental finds zest alongside his spirit.
”Autopilot” is sonically progressive in ways we are beginning to accept from rap songs playing on the radio or over the internet. Trap is the movement and Paybac beautifully infuses it in crafting this project.
The tape thrives in musicality, conspicuous one liners, a few good hooks and Iboro’s mecurial understanding of his limits with Charlie X bringing a different spin to production that endears it into a groovy listening.
Setbacks are visible in its post-production as the mixing, which made enjoying the tape a chore is a massive letdown alongside the vast unmemorable verses falling short of making this 27 minutes journey a truly cohesive statement, but ultimately, ”Autopilot” is a thrilling ride and a testament to his versatility.
3-Worth Checking Out