Written by Imani Wj Wright
Art— well art can be tricky. We've all been in a situation at one time or other, where we are listening to the latest popular song or checking out the new trendy design that everyone is going crazy about and said to ourselves, “I don't know why people like this.”
The line between what art is or isn’t can be blurry and difficult to establish at times. Art is very subjective. Nonetheless, while I was listening to “Paradise Tape,” a five song extended play (EP) by Baltimore artist Ch4n, I experienced both sides of the shaky fence. My range of opinions were mostly formed in regards to Paradise Tape’s opening track, titled: 3:04 AM.
Before we proceed to analyze the trees, let’s take a look at the forest. For the 23 minutes and some change, the duration of this project, Ch4n does a great job of keeping the feeling of “paradise” alive. Mykst Ansestree (pronounced mixed ancestry) produced this project with a conscious feel and sense of minimalism. This minimalist approach fits the tranquil and serene environment that Ch4n was able to create.
Before I was able to fully appreciate this body of work, I had to start from track one, “3:04 AM.” The intro to this piece provides 30 seconds of soothing water waves, accompanied by what seems to be someone playing a Rhodes piano. I genuinely thought this track was going to be an instrumental interlude with a variety of subtle and ambient sounds. However, a few moments later, the track takes a significant pause, and a vocal sample boastfully follows. Then, there is the sound of a snap, as Ch4n undergoes his melodic quest shortly after.
My ears were not satisfied with Ch4n’s vocal approach on the first go around. I found them to be uninspired, lagging and void of musicality but looking back now, I realized that I completely misconstrued the story and the unique approach that Ch4n was conveying there. For goodness sakes, the song was taking place on an island, during the wee hours of the morning! What was wrong with me? Ch4n’s style was more than creative— it was purposeful.
He was not just giving us a performance musically he was taking on the entire storyline and role of the song’s landscape. Everything about Ch4n’s artistic approach was calculated to the last decimal. His longest held notes were beautiful and stretched out just like a yawn after a relaxing nap. The “snap" we heard was symbolic of Ch4n waking up and getting his bearings. Ch4n’s lyrics were also straight to the point and relatable.
The first line, “No I can’t pick up the phone, I’ll call you later.” I’m sure many of us know that feeling during vacation. I was very impressed by this opening track. It plays a distinct part in the sculpting of Paradise Tape. This is a great listen for anyone in need of something to kick back to.
Ch4n said to me, “I’m in love with music. One day, I plan on running away with her.” Well, keep treating her with this kind of attention and detail, and she’ll gladly run away with you.