There are several things that immediately come to mind when one first encounters ThatKidCry.
The most obvious quality, at least to me, is how well he figured it all out early on. For some, it takes years and a lot of fumbles to determine how best to approach what they’re going for (or what they’re going for at all). For ThatKidCry, it took years of studying, research and drive before even starting to turn his words into songs, and it showed right away. Putting in all the work early created a 5-lane freeway instead of a fine line to walk when it comes to more or less every aspect of his music – particularly the line between making what you want and making what people like. He just fucking figured it out. It’s really uncanny.
Along those lines, he’s without a doubt an artist. Not just a rapper, but an honest-to-god, full-fledged fucking artist. His creative perspective is seldom seen in hip hop; the kind that can step back and view the big picture and utilize foresight just as much as instinct and impulse. His keen ear for methods of transforming tracks into far more special experiences is far stronger than, frankly, it should be, and his ability to determine the best route to take to get there is light years ahead of not only where he should be at this point, but where far more seasoned acts usually find themselves.
As far as surface level, scene-oriented bullshit goes, he’s oddly and ably versatile. As much at home in a cypher as a capella, he’s just as comfortable deftly making moves in the “rap guy” circles as the indiest of woke underground scenes and everywhere in between. He can rap laps around any style and can sing on top of all of it.
He’s the rare type who sees the value in both the timeless and the timely, boasting a catalog that’s as personal as it is relatable while streamlining content that can’t help but stay constructive and objective amidst life’s varying bullshit. The only legit expectations when a new Cry release is imminent are well thought-out, calculated and flowy bars that bang just as much as soothe the soul. You’ll find yourself just as surprised as you are knowingly nodding. The dude just has it down.
So, when This Is Love showed up one day, you know I was hyped.
The love song is a tricky theme to nail as far as rap goes, but leave it to Cry to make it even harder on himself by incorporating two stories at once. Seamlessly moving through the varying emotional charges that come with the ups and downs of this intangible concept we refer to as “love”, he interweaves his own story of a particularly rough period with Audrey Hepburn’s in Breakfast At Tiffany’s. It’s done in a way that paints him in, at times, a very realistic and wholly unflattering light – and that’s the difference between This Is Love and whatever bullshit you were about to bring up to contradict me.
Much of what comes with love is indeed fucking unflattering. Some of the shit we have to sort through to make it out the other side better for it is goddamn embarrassing.
And ThatKidCry goes through a lot of it, sometimes in painful detail.
A lot of emcees will pull stunts where they’ll self-deprecate, but they always end up on top by the end. It’s a trope, and you know what to expect. Cry ended up on top, but by no means of his own and makes sure you know it. There’s this vulnerability present that is actual, real, valid confusion and fear. That he had the presence of mind to create an objective piece of work out of it is pretty amazing. Most would default to some “woe is me” type shit or just bash the supposed cause of their problems rather than look inward.
This Is Love is an exploration of a dark time, and is exactly as much of everything it is as it needs to be. It will be available on Feb. 15, 2017 at thatkidcry.bandcamp.com for free, and there is no reason you shouldn’t give it a listen and learn something.
The standards have been set high this year, especially for the Pacific Northwest, and we’re all the much better for it.