The Quietus - A new rock music and pop culture website


Thaiboy Digital
Legendary Member Zac Cazes , October 1st, 2019 08:50

Swedish immigration officers be damned, Thaiboy Digital will keep spitting out bangers, finds Zac Cazes

Even though he’s only twenty four, Thaiboy Digital is an internet hip-hop veteran. After over six years in the game, he’s been through a lot. In 2013 the Swedish authorities began the process of deporting him, forcing him to return to a ‘home’ country he barely knew. Ultimately, six thousand miles wouldn’t be sufficient to prevent him from making music with his friends, quasi boy-band Drain Gang. Legendary Member is Thaiboy’s second solo LP and it showcases Thaiboy’s meteoric development as a rapper. More importantly, it happened despite onerous physical restrictions.

A couple of weeks ago, the Drain Gang boys released collaborative album Trash Island on which they painted a cryptic picture of the unique cultural crossover taking place between Sweden and Bangkok. On ‘30th Floor’, Bladee and Thaiboy sing a duet: “30th floor, in BK, that's a cursed town.” The Ecco2k-directed video for ‘Victim’ showcases just how aesthetically congruous Bangkok is to the group’s aesthetic sensibilities. It seems like everyone is eager to make the best out of a less than ideal situation, but reassuringly the results seem to make perfect sense. On ‘IDGAF’, the latest single from his solo LP, Thaiboy croons “only here for the summer, running up some bands then I’m gone” with a tinge of sadness, referring no doubt to his annual summer visits to Sweden during which he churns out songs with frequent collaborators in his Swedish collective. Thaiboy gives off a sense of acceptance regarding his situation that it is hard not to admire: “done gone through all of my shit, I’m not going to fucking go back,” he continues on ‘IDGAF’.

Lyrically speaking, this record is Thaiboy’s strongest offering to date, a long way from earlier singles such as ‘Tiger’ and ‘Diamonds’, which – despite being undeniable bangers – lacked nuance. Thaiboy maintains some of the more charismatic features of his rapping from back then, such as referring to himself by name in almost every track and a surprisingly poppy attitude to melody writing, but he supplements them with an emotional range and depth that will surprise anyone who had him boxed in as a turn-up rapper. He also showcases more than a few new flows in this compact debut. On top of this, his unique idiolect, a fusion of accents and slangs from all over the world, never fails to surprise. It is delivered in such a confident and satisfying way that it sounds undeniably hard, while making it clear that English is not his first language. Nevertheless, he alternates with ease between cocky boasting, gentle sweet nothings and genuine moments of emotional vulnerability, aided by frequent collaborators Ecco2k, Bladee and Yung Lean, along with four producers currently on top of their game: Whitearmor, Woesum, Ripsquad and Gud, the latter of which is the executive producer of Legendary Member.

Having changed his name from ‘Yung Gud’ to simply ‘Gud’ a few years back, Gud’s sound has also matured accordingly. Gone are the euro-trance synths and huge EDM drums, Gud’s palette of sounds is currently much more analog and organic than his trancey roots. He seems to put a lot more emphasis on ‘real’ sounds: there are, for instance, prominent guitar parts on a couple of tracks. From the beautiful melody on the title track (it sounds to me like a sample of the song ‘Heal’ from the Ico soundtrack) to the masterfully crafted detuned synth part on ‘IDGAF’, this album is full of little production details and catchy synth riffs that will leave listeners stunned.

All things considered, Legendary Member makes a strong argument for a world with no borders, where the most suitable aspects of different cultures can be cherrypicked and combined into unique hybrid cultural products with no physical restrictions. However, it is reassuring to note that despite the harsh realities of immigration law, Thaiboy Digital is undeniably shining.