Bengaluru-based hip-hop artist and self-proclaimed perfectionist Micah Bedford recently unveiled his latest EP titled FLASH WARNING via Export Quality Records. With the artist serving as the sole producer and writer across the six track collection, it’s not surprising he calls it a ‘labour of love which [forced him] to be more patient with [his art] than ever before’. But the value of the release lies precisely in the fact that it symbolises the messiness of growing pains and spotlights Bedford as a work in progress carving out his niche in the industry.
Following the release of his debut EP in 2020, the rapper-producer’s trajectory has been one to watch. 2020’s Soon, I Promise fell into the kind of bedroom pop that thrived during the initial phases of the pandemic. With listeners navigating confinement, loss, and isolation, these tunes were a balm to those looking to reflect and soothe their melancholia. He would follow up this outing by distilling R&B, jazz and more bombastic trap influences on his sophomore EP Lens Flare, which also contained the slick breakout petrolhead anthem, ‘MATTE GLOSS’. But on this record, he seems to have found a happy medium—retaining the candour, even when the beats are slick and the bass is tight.
But this record is the most ambitious of all, with Bedford tapping into a much richer palette of themes. His influences are equally wide-reaching and reflect a palette steeped in contemporary genres, which feels somewhat limiting. Alongside cautious optimism, gratitude for his day ones, Bengaluru easter eggs, and indulgent jabs at the competition, Micah makes space for anxiety, self-doubt, legacy, the pressures of being creative and more.
The piano plays a key role in foregrounding the theme of introspection. On opener ‘Cascading in Monochrome’, he sets the stage with a stirring crescendo of contemplative keys and strings. Next, there are reflections on finding clarity in a lifestyle centred around the hustle, like on the trap-flavoured lead single ‘SWISHES’. The lo-fi sound from Still, I Promise and his love for cars are reintroduced on the interlude-length ‘tommy vercetti’. The sparse track features some of the collection’s most effective songwriting, with Bedford likening his unwavering creative pursuits to a Grand Theft Auto mission by Tommy Vercetti in his humble Lacetti.
‘DRILL SZN’ is quite standard as far as UK Drill-inspired tracks go. But where they tend to be dominated by about hedonistic bars and cut-throat sparring, he surprises by leading with vulnerability instead of vanity. “God’s got me trying to be good with inheritance, it ain’t for free, I need to say it a hundred times till I really believe.” The line may be a reference to navigating the pressures and sense of privilege derived from the artist’s father also being famed rock/blues musician Johnny Bedford.
Hitting a breakthrough on his journey battling perfectionism and doubt, a more self-assured side of the artist emerges on ‘jaylovejapan’. Taking this line of thought further, the rapper cuts his losses, detailing his hopes and dreams for his rap career–from champagne-soaked celebrations with friends to buying his mom a jeep–on the jazz-inflected closer ‘doilooktryable’.
Ultimately, though FLASH WARNING sometimes suffers with production that feels a tad too safe, it is carefully stitched together with a palpable self-awareness not often found in a budding artist. In this collection, Bedford gives listeners a hero to root for with a clear narrative arc that boasts themes even non-creatives will relate to. Even in the short runtime, you’ll find a track to inspire the grind, a second that brings reassurance for when it doesn’t feel right, and a third to celebrate with after finding your way back to yourself.
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