Album Review: Brodinski's Debut, 'Brava,' Adds French Finesse to Trap Music

Brodinski
Album Review
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France has long been a hotbed for cutting-edge electronic music, with Daft PunkBusy P and David Guetta as notable alumni. But the new school of French electro is led by Brodinski, a 27-year-old sneakerhead from the city of Reims who favors southern-fried hip-hop over anything disco. Since founding the taste-making label Bromance Records in 2011, Brodinski (real name: Louis Rogé) has collaborated with Danny Brown, Kaytranada and Gesaffelstein, and has co-produced songs for Theophilus London and Kanye West

The past year, though, has been about piecing together his debut solo abum, Brava, which is out Tuesday (March 3) on Parlophone/Warner Music. A hazy, seductive blend of trap and techno, it feels like the soundtrack to a strip club in Paris' grittiest arrondissement. Think Justice on lean.

Brava is dedicated to the late DJ Mehdi, another French producer known for straddling hip-hop and house, whom Brodinski credits as a mentor. The album was primarily recorded in Los Angeles and Paris, but its heart and soul belong to Atlanta, the hip-hop hot spot where most of the project's guest rappers (Young Scooter, ILoveMakonnen, Shitro) hail from.

Brodinski and his Bromance brethren, such as the eccentric production group Club Cheval, clearly have a taste for Atlanta's brand of minimalist, raw soundscapes. Of the albums 13 tracks, 11 feature rappers or vocalists from the southern city, which is why the album has largely been classified as trap music. But he's careful not to suck the sound dry; by weaving in distinctly techno elements, like twitchy sirens and acid breaks, the result is something darker, speedier and unmistakably his.

Take "Can't Help Myself," the album's trippy lead single that blends different tempos, textures, and SD's chopped and screwed vocals. There's a lot going on, but the pieces are strung together by Brodinski's signature cadence, an urgent click-clacking hum that calls to mind car chases and accelerated heart rates, a sense of impending doom. It's his specialty, and one that shines through on "Need for Speed," a menacing track featuring Atlanta rapper Bloody Jay, who yells and grunts while Bromance labelmate Louisahhh!!! eggs him on with prodding incantations ("Need a change of scene, blood, sweat, gasoline," she coos). As on the rest of Brava, the spotlight tends to fall on those sitting shotgun, but it's Brodinski at the wheel.