For the first half of this year, I listened to Tunji Ige’s debut mixtape The Love Project all the way through at least once a week. It’s so good, and if you haven’t spent any time with it, you really should — download it for free here. Anyway, “Dark Liquor” isn’t on the tape; instead, it’s part of a Atlanta’s A3C Hip-Hop Festival’s new compilation tape A3C Volume 5, and the video premiered on Complex today.
Ige is just as prolific a producer as he is a rapper, and one of his signature moves is to leave the snippet of another song right at the beginning, or hanging off the end, of a new track (for example, listen for the golden funk-flipped jubilant snippet of “Know” at the end of “For Us“). Accordingly, a sample kicks off “Dark Liquor” — “Ball Is Life” the first song off The Love Project — before the song itself launches. It’s a brilliant production move and a cool callback that connects this one-off to Ige’s other release. Though he is Nigerian-American, Ige came up in Pennsylvania — most recently at West Chester University — and at just 19 he’s already capable of crafting hooks that lodge themselves firmly in the pleasure center of your brain. He can take a phrase as banal as “My side bitch look like Brandy” and make you want to sing it back all day, strictly based on intonation and the way the beat hits. Same goes for the song’s true hook: “This the hardest shit you heard thus far.”
The video for “Dark Liquor” is mostly just blurry shots of Ige performing — many of them from his SXSW show — and it seems like maybe the file isn’t as high quality as it ideally could be. But the director Glassface also did Ige’s “For Us” video, which is incredibly nuanced and reminds me of Black Mirror, so definitely watch that for a better sense of Glassface’s real skill. “Dark Liquor” is more than worth listening to multiple times on its own, though, so keep it open in a tab all day.
Seriously, just download The Love Project. You won’t regret it.