Our own mortality is one of the biggest concepts we as humans have to grapple with. At some point we’re all going to be gone. That can be scary if you think about it too much and let it consume you. The looming end can give perspective, though. It can inspire people to make the most out of the time they have and live fully while they can. Confronting the end has always been a fascinating topic for art to cover. Toronto hip-hop artist Badlook (David Mooney) is the latest musician to take aim at the subject, inspired by several deaths in his personal life. He’s done so on the aptly titled EP Tell Death I Said What Up, which is premiering on Substream this afternoon.
Tell Death I Said What Up begins with the titular track, a rattling journey that serves as the thesis for the whole project. Mechanical-sounding samples combine with a clean, energetic beat to lay the groundwork for Badlook to work with. There is a sadness throughout the EP, but it’s clear Badlook is working his way through all of his emotions, and his boastful delivery of the titular line show he is moving past fear. “Down” features a grimier sound that works well paired with the isolation he’s feeling on this track. After the darker turn of “Down,” the project ends with the triumphant “Hats Off.” Badlook encourages everyone to keep going even in the face of death, and gives his “hats off” to everyone who has done so. The wordplay throughout is quick and inventive, and the emotional journey of Tell Death I Said What Up is clear and satisfying to follow.
Badlook gave Substream a lengthly explanation for the entire project. He says:
“The EP as a whole was inspired originally by having 2 of my very good friends pass away last year. I initially started coming up with the concept after leaving the second funeral with all my friends and realizing how many times I’ve been so close death myself. Once I was deep into the recording and writing process, me and my family had to endure losing very suddenly my stepmother of 22 years. It was very clear to me after this experience that this is what I need to be doing at this time, and I worked day in and day out for about a month until it was finished. The entire EP was written, produced, engineered and mixed by myself. I kind of just stayed in my studio and powered through it. It was the fastest any project I have worked on has ever taken. The start of the first song “Tell Death I Said What Up” was the first musical idea I had; it all just started falling out of me from there. Every word and note and drum hit just seemed to almost write itself. These situations are always the best when creating something. When your inspiration and your ability meet at a very high point you kind of become unstoppable. I want people to hear this project and come out of it feeling confident and that they can take on anything.I wanted it to make you feel invincible. Like all the bad things in the world can’t fuck with you when you’ve got this music playing.”
You can listen to Badlook’s new EP Tell Death I Said What Up below.