REMI - Fried (Review)
Updated: Nov 8, 2021
Last Friday saw the release of the final ever album by Melbourne duo REMI. Entitled ‘Fried’, the album was in the works across many years following the release of their 2016 sophomore masterpiece ‘Divas and Demons’ and was set to drop early last year. The duo understandably opted to delay the release of the album due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on Australia and the world, citing a desire to refrain from self-indulgence in a time where so many were bereft of freedom, safety and comfort.
Across the album you will find REMI’s brilliant subversion of thought-provoking and challenging lyrics packaged with gorgeous production. Where in the past Remi and Sensible J were known for their separation of bars & vocals (Remi) and beats & instrumentals (Sensible J), ‘Fried’ is an entirely different story. The album sees both Remi & Sensible J involved in the production across the entire track-list, breathing life and vibrancy into every single track. Each track encapsulates the spirit and unpredictability of REMI’s entire discography leading up to this point and it is truly a triumphant experience to savour.
‘Reptile’ ft Silentjay
Album opener ‘Reptile’ is a dance-inducing, groovy mesh of instrumentation by Sensible J that hits you with surprise after surprise. Sensible J’s poise in balancing angelic crescendos and colourful bass licks on this track is masterful, laying a delightful platform for Remi to display his lyrical nous and to dissect everything from awareness of the leeches and snakes hiding in our lives; “please be aware of the reptile”, to falsehood; “everybody got a mask on”. It’s important to point out as well that Silentjay’s impressive vocals balance wonderfully with Remi’s mix of bars and singing.
‘5 A.M.’ ft Whosane
It has been almost 2 years since this effusive track was released upon the world and I still savour every second of its 3 minute & 32 second runtime. Every facet of ‘5 A.M.’, from the cheerful & pansophical adlibs to the raw, unfiltered honesty of Remi’s lyrics, is engrained in me. The song’s lively aesthetic is orchestrated around a toxic underbelly, one whereupon a destructive one-sided relationship consumes Remi emotionally. Whosane’s refrain creates the perfect ambience for the track, adding to the distortion and chaos with an ode to late-night lust.
‘The Times’ ft Tyler Daley
‘The Times’ is a pertinent and powerful illustration of why even though we cannot escape the past, we must accept its place in our lives. Lyrically, Remi’s verses see the artist battling with the frustrations that are intrinsic to who he’s grown up as and what he’s grown up with. The track features the luscious vocals and connective lyricism of Tyler Daley, one half of English hip-hop duo Children of Zeus. Both Daley & Remi exhibit a connectedness through the mutuality of their experiences, as Daley conveys: “I can relate to running away from anything and I’d like to say some words on it”. Production-wise, the track is accompanied by stellar reverberating ephemeral vocals and subtle, unembellished keys. And ultimately, the ‘Times’ live with us, whether we like it or not.
The capitalistic methodology that is engrained within our society is what ‘Finesse It’ effectively deconstructs. Animated guitar notes ring out as Remi hits the listener with lyrically creative and self-aware bars alongside a refrain that parodies the mentalities, mantras and creeds that are seen as solutions on the road to attaining “MONEY”. ‘Finesse It’ hilariously points out society’s obsession with ‘finessing’ a system that is inherently of our own making.
‘Elevate’ is a hallucinogenic journey of vibrating synths, vibrant vocals and ranging vocal enhancements featuring a wise George Clinton-like voice uttering “you’ve got to elevate”. Packed with plenty of character, the track compares two types of elevation, one of the induced variety and the other of a certain intoxicating love that transports the individual to a space of ease and contentedness equivalent to that of a higher being.
Whilst the album as a whole sees Remi juggling a multitude of unique perspectives with his voice, ‘Jimmy’s Jam’ is about a certain character who offers a route around the institution we’ve come to know. The titular Jimmy is a veritable player, one who is separate from the traditions of monogamy and is a go-to for those seeking a guide towards satisfying lust, desperation and temptation. The track features some wickedly psychedelic guitar licks and offers Remi the chance to put the spotlight into a character we’ve all encountered and may or may not envy for their nonconformity.
‘Uneasy’ ft Whosane
The gorgeous opening of this track, featuring Whosane’s emblematic vocals and an excellently added pan-flute, sets the tone to follow perfectly. Remi’s lyrics speak on the urge of wanting to detach oneself from our emotions and discomforts, particularly in the guilt-ridden situation of a love affected by an all-consuming anger and frustration motivated by jealousy. The track is multi-layered and interpretative, and if anything, it drives the listener to question what sparks their own uneasiness.
‘Brain’ ft Lori
Released in 2019 after lead single ‘5 A.M.’, ‘Brain’ captures the tale of a blissful love that only one’s soul can comprehend. The chemistry between Lori and Remi on this song is not to be undervalued. Lori’s vocals seep into one’s brain, capturing the infectious love that Remi evokes as he muses: “Cause whether we’re deep in our love or we’re deep in friendship, I know that this connection is one beyond comprehension”. This is the type of love that resides in one’s subconscious; occupying every fantasy, projection and idealism one can conjure. Remi’s flow and timing on ‘Brain’ is excellently weighted, allowing room for Lori to bring her wonderful energy to the track.
‘Full of Tar’
The combined hit of resounding drums & gloomy keys in the introduction of ‘Full of Tar’ is like an awakening of the senses. It is this ambience that continues throughout the track and lays the groundwork for Remi to be brutally honest in speaking on feelings one would only know intimately. The rapper effortlessly delivers a powerful reflection on the chaotic world we live in, capturing the anxiety of one’s darkest days where they feel full of sickness, anger and resentment. Ultimately, Remi despises the trap of these feelings, but he cannot help falling back into it due to the world around him.
‘Good Mates’ ft Konny Kon
‘Good Mates’ provides a lens into the struggles with being misunderstood that have compounded on Remi and those around him his whole life. The rapper manifests plenty of his own trauma through this track, and it is this trauma which pervades Remi’s life and the lives of others he’s known. A bombastic explosion in the middle-point of the track signals Konny Kon’s emphatic entrance, with the other half of Children of Zeus speaking to the pain he has seen around him in the pitfalls of misguided escapism. This track is not to be seen as venting; it is merely an expression of truth. Truth in one’s surroundings and in the pores of every human we see.
‘Goin Up’ is a portal into the minds of REMI as they look back on their time together as a duo. Dream-like, fluid instrumentation signalling the passing of time opens the track and beckons the listener towards taking in Remi’s lyrics. Arguably, this track is a sign off by the pair before the album’s end, further accentuated by a feeling of contentedness in what they’ve achieved and how they’ve stood by their philosophy.
‘Warrior Tribe’ ft Whosane & Baasto
The alignment shared between Remi and Baasto on ‘Warrior Tribe’ is equal parts endearing and lyrically lethal. Whosane’s captivating hook establishes a tone of resilience that superbly soars through Remi & Baasto’s verses. The track sees Remi equivocating his and Sensible J’s partnership to that of an impenetrable alliance, one that has been forged on their similarities and differences. Baasto’s verse sees the MC speaking up for her people and speaking to the resilience, sensitivity, strength and humanity of their communities in passing down what they know today.
‘Get It Right’ ft Jace XL
Released last year alongside ‘Elevate’, ‘Get It Right’ is a sumptuous microcosm of everything REMI stand for and have achieved. An attention-grabbing saxophone sets the stage for Remi’s lyrics which brandish an unflappable confidence in what the pair have done in staying true to themselves in the face of adversity, despite concerns about deviating from who they are at times. Jace XL’s vocals embody a final message of reassurance from REMI, as he states: “We’ll be okay, feeling my way”. The track is a sign-off both sonically and lyrically, encapsulating everything that has made REMI something for fans to treasure in one final song.
‘Fried’ is crafted with love. The album oozes so much to savour in its runtime, and is woven in such a way whereby you are left both grooving to every beat and contemplating every lyric. REMI’s music has always been about embracing the unspoken whilst poking fun at what others spend their time demonising inside of a comfort zone. And ‘Fried’ captures this wholeheartedly. Every dazzling beat, soulful vocal and intricate bar is the truest testament to REMI as a pairing, evoking an impressive litany of themes and emotions for the listener to absorb.
REMI’s music captures a perfect balance. This being the mix of an acknowledgement, love and acceptance of the past with the forward-thinking, perceptive and (sometimes) brutally honest perspective of the future. It is something I relate to dearly, and it is this album that I will treasure across 2021 and the years beyond. There is undoubtedly so much more for Remi & Sensible J to give to the world. I for one cannot wait to see what Remi and Sensible J conjure up in their solo work and I thank them for their significant impact on this scene.
Words by Matthew Badrov
Published May 13th, 2021.