You never quite know what you’re going to get when it comes to America’s independent hip-hop scene. It’s a world of brilliant creative freedom, and one where starting a song with a soundbite from Spongebob Squarepants actually makes pretty good sense. Arriving as a collaboration between aspiring artists YoungBoy Manks and Greendot the Supplier, ‘EPR 304’ is a track of simple means and big potential.
Natives of Preston County, West Virginia, YoungBoy Manks and Greendot the Supplier are a collaborative force backed by GoonSquadTribe Records, an imprint owned by Greendot himself. With their sights set on making it big and realising their dreams, ‘EPR (304)’ marks one their latest big move into the hip-hop spotlight.
It’s an interesting concept, drifting from the nasally voice of Spongebob Squarepants towards light digital flourishes and flickering, resplendent builds a complex atmosphere early on. It’s an immersive backing that sets the tone for the track well, arriving as a calculated composition that manages to hold on to a very organic feel, and for the first thirty seconds of ‘EPR (304)’ everything seems to be working just right.
While the track’s artwork might boast an explicit content label, you would be hard-pressed to really see why. When the vocals arrive, the is a disarming, distorted edge that overwhelms and hides the lyrics, obscuring the clean cut sound that most hip-hop songs aim for and delving the track into a haze of uncertainty. While the instrumentals and beat roll on in perfect clarity, the murky, almost underwater sounds of the vocals overtake, forcing the listener to reach for understanding. Intriguingly, the last minute of the track improves drastically, allowing the real flow and sound of the artists breakthrough the mire, coming as a surprising reward and ultimately saving ‘EPR (304)’.
It’s a strange imbalance that makes you wonder whether the distorted vocals are purposeful or not, but more than that, it also makes you hesitant to revisit the song because it’s so easy to see the potential of it all. With a cleaner sound, refined production, and real support, it’d be easy to see ‘EPR (304)’ making waves instead of just ripples. The crowning glory of the track though is that it highlights the drive and passion of the artists, and Greendot the Supplier in particular, proving that with perseverance and work, he can make his mark.