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Machinedrum Enlists An All-Star Cast On “3FOR82”

Here's everything you need to know about what's sure to be one of this year's most underrated albums.
The cover for the most recent Machinedrum album, ‘3FOR82.’

Categorizing electronic artists is always a losing battle, but North Carolina’s Machinedrum is one who evades buckets as easily as you can conjure them up. Even if you haven’t come across his half-house, half-IDM stylings before, you’ve come across his collaborators. Rochelle Jordan, Jesse Boykins III, Freddie Gibbs and Kucka are just a few names that marked past projects. But the North Carolina product’s latest, 3FOR82, features easily the best Machinedrum surrounding cast. Here’s everything you need to know about what’s sure to be one of this year’s most underrated albums by the time it’s all said and done.

Mick Jenkins and The Underachievers Define The “Hip-Hop” Side of This LP

While “hip-hop over electronic” often results in party music or Billboard fare (see Flume, KAYTRANADA or Fred again..), what Machinedrum brings out of his collaborators on 3FOR82 results in much more meditative end results. Mick Jenkins, having worked with KAYTRA and Disclosure in the past, ponders the influence of social media amid a characteristic slew of ruminations on “Weary”: “Who got the trap on replay? They know everything soon as we touch screen.”

“HEAL” and “BLESSED” see Machinedrum try on a hat he rarely wears. The backing instrumentation on either wouldn’t be out of place on a lo-fi hip-hop compilation, a far cry from what core fans associate him with. Yet even within those bounds, the quirky, melancholic hallmarks of his sound remain. The aspiring narratives of Deem Spencer and The Underachiever’s AKTHESAVIOR steal the show on both pieces, both starkly compelling in their genuine transparency.

A still of Machinedrum, posted to @machinedrum (IG) in anticipation of '3FOR82.'
A still of Machinedrum, posted to @machinedrum in anticipation of ‘3FOR82.’

Stellar Machinedrum Production Makes 3FOR82 So Compelling

While those songs succeed in playing to the featured artists’ biggest strengths, much of 3FOR82‘s runtime sees Machinedrum recontextualizing his collaborators. None are more stark than “ILIKEU,” utilizing the typically boisterous DCKWRTH in a blend between his energetic house sound and the broody styling the North Carolina producer majors in.

For the uninitiated, the biggest embrace of that core sound is on “H0N3Y,” the sole instrumental track on this project. Slow, developing melodics and vocal chops get plenty of space to play atop high-energy, hyperpop-esque production. It’s equal parts disquieting and groovy, a formula that won’t strike home for everyone, but will hit a perfect chord for its target demo.

Tinashe & “Zoom” Deliver A Knockout Blow At The Tail End

“Zoom” with Tinashe is the true crown jewel on this project. There’s no other way to say it: the “alt R&B” star is in her bag, hooky and syrupy as ever over A-plus drum & bass. Arguably the peak of the whole project is in the closing moments of the song, as the instrumental fades out and leaves behind the tail end of the Kentucky singer’s line, a digital vibrato warping and bending already stellar vocals.

On paper, the blend of talent that Machinedrum brings together on 3FOR82 would probably make someone expect a relatively standard electronic album. But its peers engineer strictly for the dance floor, a setting that, despite its strengths, this project won’t be found on. Instead, 3FOR82 is a hazy yet refreshing day after. Given the heavyweight talent that live in that world here, it’s a reassuring sign for the weirder side of electronic music that this sort of project is afforded that opportunity.

You can find 3FOR82 and all of the preceding Machinedrum catalog wherever you get your music.

Elsewhere, Djo & “End Of The Beginning” are back on our radar as the Stranger Things alum continues to shine as a musician.

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