ALBUM REVIEW: quinn, quinn
I’ll keep it short and sweet because that’s the way I’ve always read the music of fka p4rkr fka osquinn, now quinn, to be. She was bred out of the ratking free-for-all of the Spotify hyperpop playlist that hyped up acts like Glitch Gum, Alice Longyu Gao and midwxst, yet never really fit perfectly into the crowd. At just 16 years of age, quinn was crafting a far more interesting DIY niche than the majority of her contemporaries, take “coping mechanism” or “and now a word from our sponsors” for example. Rather than just being another 100 gecs bastard child, she decided to wade harder into the crackling lo-fi sounds of early vaporwave. Yes, it was auto-tuned, but it wasn’t glamorous, it was murky as hell and better for it.
The pandemic was kind to anonymous hyperpop artists but the real world was not, unfortunately, and many of them have since pivoted away. Charli XCX split, Bladee baptized himself in the rave waters for a half a second then dipped, and 100 gecs went pop-punk. I would argue that even though quinn was never really that much of a pure hyperpop artist, she takes the genre’s use of auto-tune and sampling to new heights with her self-titled re-debut.
Let’s get into the music.
Throughout this brief project, quinn samples greats like Madlib and Kendrick Lamar, but not in the typical way you’d imagine. We get an acapella soundbite of Kanye rapping “you are about to experience something so cold” on “song about imAGNARY PEOPEL” before lo-fi guitars and farty synths guide us into a cute lil rock track. The beat for Freddie Gibbs and Madlib’s “Shame” is sampled pretty prominently on “rare jawn”, but the vocal melody is cut up and extended in the following two cuts. quinn has the charm and looseness of a demo tape – smoking coughs, feedback blips and all – while still feeling cohesive.
Vocally and on the rhyming front, she is in the lineage of the MIKEs and Earl Sweatshirts, while also grabbing some balladry from modern heartthrobs like Steve Lacy. This is on full display on “the trust game” and “warm and fuzzy”, but I don’t think quinn falls too deeply into the influences personally. It’s as if there are two pathways of this album existing at once. One that is melodic or follows a typical structure, and another that feels like her mind interjecting. Whether those interruptions come in the form of tales of childhood struggle (“you don’t gotta be here if you don’t wone’a”), the anti-cop “american freestyle” or disrespectful “i see you”. “I’m in your house / I’m fucking on your…fucking PAWG of a wife” she says “I’m looking for your social security number / I’m gonna steal your identity”.
What’s going on here really is pure musical voyeurism, bringing the listener back and forth behind and in front of the curtain. We get a real hard look into the thoughts and impulses of a budding creative, a black trans girl living in a place where it’s not easy to have that dual identity. While I feel as though this type of messy structure on a musical project limits its potential, it also simultaneously opens up infinite possibilities for the history of sound as entertainment. I fuck with it, to make a long story short.