Waiting 2 Exhale is LSDXOXO’s first release in three years, making a strong comeback with some hard-hitting vocals – a first for LSDXOXO as he prepares us for his first physical release at the beginning of 2021. The mixtape is a perfect blend of R&B, ballroom, hip-hop and techno, a nod to the culture of Black dance music. LSDXOXO plays with genre in such an exciting and interesting way, giving us LSD without the XOXO and making his mark on the dance industry as a vocalist and versatile producer. Speaking for a lot of us, LSD tweets about being over ‘white’ techno, adding how living through COVID-19 has really opened his eyes to how the genre has been co-opted by white artists, and subject to gatekeeping. This mixtape is just the start of the Black revolution of dance music, and LSD does it well.
Waiting 2 Exhale was produced in a state of ‘corona anguish’, and you can really feel this as we are taken on a journey through the soundscape that is the mixtape. 2020 has been a tumultuous year, and LSDXOXO recognises this throughout the mixtape, starting off heavy with ‘Good Girl’, immediately introducing us to his vocals in the first few bars, carrying a sense of urgency and excitement and then finally hitting us with an explosion of techno that radiates and fills the room.
‘D*** Like Crack’ is the next track on the mixtape, starting off again with LSD’s vocals which are slow, raspy and sensual. Then the beat kicks in. It’s a well-known beat in the ballroom scene known as The Ha Dance, a classic, with all the signature elements of a ballroom tune; skittering drum snares, claps and crashes. LSDXOXO’s vocals, though simplistic work really well with the song and of all The Ha Dance remixes I’ve heard before, this shines through. The next three songs have more of a mellow and melodic vibe compared to the first two songs, with ‘Sis, Don’t Spiral ‘, ‘Summer in The West’ and ‘Shit Hits Different’. You can really hear the R&B influence in these three songs, as LSD plays around with genres. For me, it’s the small things that make these songs great, such as the catchy piano melody in ‘Sis, Don’t Spiral’, breakbeat drums and rhythms in ‘Summer in The West’ and SZA sample in ‘Sh*t Hits Different’. SZA’s ‘Hit Different’ is arguably one of the best R&B songs to come out of 2020, and it only made sense for LSD to put his own twist on it, sampling the pre chorus and layering it with some rap vocals to give it his own meaning.
Where SZA goes through the emotions of navigating an open relationship, LSDXOXO plays with the feelings of experiencing addiction and drug use more broadly, with lyrics such as “I wanna be sedated“. LSD writes; Lick it, crush it, put it on my tab, cut from a brick crystal castles in the bag, and continues, If I gotta get it, I think I’m addicted… this sh*t hits different. ‘Sh*t Hits Different’ might be a bit more solemn than the rest, but LSD builds it back up again with the next track ‘Taking me High’, bringing the techno back into the mix and keeping the melodic vibe of the previous songs and swiftly teleporting us back into a time where we could enjoy parties and raves.
‘Coming Down’ is up next: a stark contrast to ‘Taking Me High’. The transition between these two songs mirrors that of the entire mixtape – up and down, a commentary on the chaotic landscape of 2020. This one really does it for me. It’s a perfect dance tune with a melancholy punch that can only be described as what it feels like to be on a comedown, with the vocals “If only I can get through this”. To finish off the mixtape, LSD ends with ‘To the Gods’. Everything about this track is seamless, from the vocals to the production, it is reminiscent of work of super producers such as Timbaland and Pharrell who both perfected this blend of R&B and Hip Hop in their days.
This mixtape is an excellent piece of work and LSD deserves all of the accolades. I’m genuinely excited to see what LSDXOXO has in store for 2021, especially as he has shown us how incredibly versatile he can be as a vocalist and producer.
Header image via UnderTheRadar.co.nz