Writer: Kyle Wheelock
Despite initially being associated with low quality, poorly mixed songs that sound like they were recorded in a bedroom with an Xbox headset, Soundcloud has become a very legitimate platform for new artists to make a name for themselves with any sound that they’re comfortable with. Names like Lil Uzi Vert, Playboi Carti, Ski Mask the Slump God, and 21 Savage all got their start uploading their songs independently to the website, but so have more niche acts like Lil Peep (R.I.P.), Trippie Redd, and Sad Boys.
Enter Oliver Francis, a 24 year old rapper, singer, and producer from Columbus, Missouri. This originally was supposed to be an Artist Profile, but since there isn’t as much info about Oliver out there like there is about Joji (except for this interview with No Jumper from June), we’re just gonna talk about his music, how it stands out from the rest of Soundcloud, and why it’s worth checking out.
As a young teen, Oliver Francis had more of an interested in making punk music and doing remixes on the side, but gradually gained confidence in himself as a rapper and producer over the years. Although, if you listened to his music, you wouldn’t really be able to tell, because he maintains this nonchalant persona in all of his songs that makes it all seem so effortless. With every release, Oliver refines his work more and more and the final product stands out from the rest. The production is slick and atmospheric, and it accompanies melodic and easygoing vocals that result in a coherent and pretty product.
Oliver has been releasing music since late 2015 and continues to upload new tracks regularly (at the time of writing, his latest Youtube upload, “Devil’s Advocate”, is about a week old) in order to get his name out there more and more. Personally, I like most of Oliver tracks and would recommend them all, but he himself has said that his album, Chlorine, is his, “favorite body of work”, so that’s what I’ll focus on. Chlorine is a ten track album that came out last spring, and since then it’s become one of my favorite listens. Granted, it’s not perfect, especially if you’re looking for a lyrical project to listen to and break down. Chlorine isn’t that. The lyrics on there are pretty basic and to the point (save for a few clever punchlines) and can get kind of same-y if you play it as much as I have been. He has two modes lyrically: the soft and emotional boyfriend side, and the cool guy, bragging side that likes to drink Hennessy (seriously, he mentions Hennessy at least once on every other song it feels like).
That all being said, if you’re just looking for something to relax to, something to have on while you’re studying or working, or just something to listen to on your night out, then Chlorine is for you. The whole project is 28 minutes long, so it’s definitely a quick listen with two distinct moods. Track one, “Celebration” embodies the rapper side of Oliver Francis, a pretty and polished beat that sounds like it’s straight out of a dream and some autotuned vocals that are super melodic and catchy in their own right. The next two tracks, “Good Life Freestyle,” and, “New Year’s Day,” follow suit in much of the same way, which I personally am a fan of.
On all of these tracks, Oliver sounds focused. He knows what he wants his music to sound like, and he puts the time in to make sure everything from his sound selection to the final mix is crafted a certain way. And this effort shows, namely on, “Hip Bones,” and “Nothing Gold Can Stay”. These tracks are two of my favorite Oliver Francis tracks, not just on Chlorine, but from all of his discography, so I would definitely recommend giving them a listen.
Honestly, I think his slower and more introspective tracks shine brighter than his more boastful tracks, so songs like, “Let My Guard Down,” and, “Can’t Handle My Love,” also get the seal of approval. When Oliver slows his music down and starts crooning about his ambitions or his love life, he really brings a chill vibe that I like to hear, especially when combined with the slow piano melodies he likes to use on these songs. I keep calling his music, “dreamy,” but that’s really how it sounds on these slower songs. He layers autotuned vocals on top of more autotuned vocals, plays with the pitch and reverb, and it comes off as super graceful and ethereal, and I can’t stress that enough.
Lyrically, Chlorine isn’t that deep, it’s either bragging about money or reflecting on a lost love, with only some slight variations here and there. That being said, I think it is a pretty impressive project and Oliver Francis should be proud of these ten tracks. The production on this album is atmospheric and elegant, which complements the easy going, carefree vocals that Oliver brings to the table. He doesn’t sound like he’s trying too hard on any of these cuts, and it just adds to the aesthetic that surrounds him and his music. Definitely give his music a chance, you might end up liking it as much as I do.
TL; DR: Chlorine is pretty good, give it a listen
Highlights: Celebration, New Year’s Day, Hip Bones, Nothing Gold Can Stay, Let My Guard Down