Nikodimos, Agung Mango - 'SON OF AGUNG' (Review)
Updated: Nov 8, 2021
Across two years the Melbourne-based Agung, alongside production maestro Nikodimos, poured their heart and soul in to the captivating, honest and exceptional ‘SON OF AGUNG’. Released last year in December, the EP is as diverse a project as I have come across in Australian hip-hop. Unbound by genre, both artist and producer have combined to formulate what is a collision of themes ranging from loss, acceptance and self-confidence among many others. The production is infectious, working to accentuate the expression of these themes, and the EP as a whole, meaning you will continuously be drawn back after every listen.
Each track on the EP is divergent from the last, but this is not to say the EP as a whole is incompatible. In fact, no track being the same is as true a reflection of Agung Mango himself, or better yet how human beings should be in general. As people, we shouldn’t have to define ourselves by the linear constraints of the past, and Agung proves that he refuses to do so through this EP. The album’s cover art alone speaks to Agung embracing the demonic forces at play in the world, a representation of his concerted effort to walk headfirst into fear without trepidation or doubt.
‘YO EL REY’
What a start to this project. Lead single ‘YO EL REY’ is an eclectic fusion of penetrating bars and smooth R&B vocals which see Agung reflecting on growing up feeling like a “diamond in the rough”, enjoying the celebrations of his successes & the painful desire for a distant love. The track’s flow swells up and levels out between the verses and refrains, giving the listener brief moments to catch their breathe until they’re hit with the next wave of Agung’s intense delivery. Additionally, the injection of that playful flute is truly delightful.
The whole jazzy aesthetic created by Nikodimos on ‘BOW WOW’ is a perfect base for Agung Mango to strut his stuff. The introduction’s use of a reverbed kick-drum has a spellbinding ping-pong effect, drawing you in alongside Agung’s intermittent lyrics. As is ever-present throughout the EP, Agung displays his immense ability in switching up his vocal delivery, opting for a mixture of raspy vocals and his naturally unperturbed delivery. The harmonisation of Agung’s humming is a charming complement to the sensual mood of the track.
‘TUMMERLY RUMBERLIN’ ft Eissa
‘TUMMERLY RUMBERLIN’ is instantly memorable because of its bubbling build up and the use of those enigmatic synths. Additionally, Eissa’s contribution is subtle, but essential. The play on words in the title is ever present throughout the song, as Agung recites “Andale, andale, didn’t get enough sleep, my tummerly rumberlin” in the refrain, reflecting this intoxicating, all-consuming desire that Agung feels in his hunger for success.
‘*ERROR* LANDING IN MONKEY FOREST, BALI’
This interlude works to slow down the EP for the listener before Agung & Nikodimos elect to jump back in to the journey the project is taking us on. The droning guitar strings seep through this sparse jungle landscape, evoking a sense of caution in the chaos.
‘SHE’S DANGEROUS’ ft Melody Napoleon
‘SHE’S DANGEROUS’ is yet another fascinating voyage in to the world being created by Nikodimos & Agung. The other-worldly beat, Agung’s groovy expression, the captivating vocals and the inclusion of Melody Napoleon’s playful love-worn bars work together to form this look at a deadly, but uncontrollable desire for a certain type of love. I love the use of Italian in this track, an element of Agung’s diverse heritage, that of which is central to this EP’s themes.
‘OL’SAGA WONT DIE’
On ‘OL’SAGA WONT DIE’, Agung & Nikodimos undertake a melancholic trap style, with screeching guitar strings and ephemeral vocals used in order to reveal a sense of pain like no other; attempting to find resilience through loss. The discomfort one feels in every fiber of their being when dealing with loss is difficult to endure, and yet the subsequent realisation that a person’s energy will live on in spite of their physical departure is a powerful conclusion to come to. This conclusion is something Agung has evidently come to terms with, and it is conveyed excellently in this track.
‘GOOD4NUFFIN’ ft Teether
‘GOOD4NUFFIN’ is badass. The bass in it will leave your head-bopping, but the message it contains will leave an even greater mark on you. The strength in reminding yourself not to get caught up in the perceptions, judgments and standards of others is something I have always been drawn to about hip-hop. Agung (speaking for himself and Nikodimos) repeats the mantra “We don’t give a fuck” throughout the track and I couldn’t agree more with the medium or the message. Teether’s involvement is a valuable affirmation of the essence of this track, concluding an all-round beast of a song.
This fun-loving, laidback track satisfies exactly what it’s meant to. The trippy, groovy feel along with lyrics about getting lost in the smoke without a care in the world is a perfect reminder for the listener to remember take a break from the hassles of everyday life. However though, the lyrics contain within them an underlying darker tone pointing to the dangers of falling too far in to a world devoid of self-care, and subsequently, self-love.
‘NEPTUNE HILLS’ is a delightful summation for the EP as a whole. In this EP, Agung is expressing to the listener the power that comes from not caring about the opinions, expectations and conceptions of others, something the artist has undoubtedly worked at for some time. He has no desire to meet anyone’s “deadlines” other than his own, and as a result is unafraid to undertake his journey however he wants to.
The experience of listening to this EP motivates me to see Agung Mango live. Having become accustomed with his music in the last few months, I am massively engrossed by the incredible artistry he possesses. His ability to cross genres inimitably and seamlessly is exceptional, but it is the manner in which he expresses himself through his music that I find so powerful. Listening to ‘SON OF AGUNG’ from start to finish is enthralling, engaging and immense. Having already listened to it three times over, I am enamoured by both Agung & Nikodimos’ ability to craft something that never detracts from it’s goal of surprising you at every turn.
This EP is testament to the self-awareness and strength of Agung & Nikodimos in using as many tools as they have available without over-indulging themselves. Often, throughout the EP, they strike the right balance and it pays off beautifully. The way in which Agung is able to juggle such a variety of emotions and experiences in every song is mystifying. And Nikodimos’ diverse production on offer acts as the platform for Agung to jump from motion to motion with sophistication. The whirlwind of genre-bending flavour in this EP will undoubtedly satisfy something in you, I know it did for me.
Published February 4th, 2021.