Haasan Barclay has been quickly rising through the ranks of Boston’s hip-hop scene, both as a producer and a solo artist, constructing songs that don’t limit themselves to solitary genre labels. His 2016 debut Heaven Is Your Last Dream gave us our first chance to hear what he can do when given more room to flaunt his impeccable ear for sound selection. Since then, he hasn’t missed a beat, continuing to release and produce music, as well as popping up on some features for other local artists.
Now, he’s back to release his new track “Deep Blue Sea” with frequent collaborator and local hip-hop favorite Michael Christmas. The track sounds like the logical next step for Barclay: he’s only gotten sharper with his production techniques over time, honing in on the depth of sound that accentuates his lyrics of isolation. The song opens with a synthesizer that calls back to the 8-bit beeps of early video game consoles like Super Nintendo, an example of the singer’s wide-ranging influences. In the track’s lyrical narrative, Barclay’s perspective is from inside a bubble in the sea, removed from the “snakes” and “sharks” that “think they know [him].” What separates this from similar sentiments expressed in isolationist R&B is Barclay’s commitment to his metaphors, in this case, the vast, cold expanse of undersea life.
Halfway through the song, Michael Christmas steps into the fray in his typical nonchalant fashion, taking his chance to add his unique tongue-in-cheek wordplay to the metaphor Barclay has established. He takes Barclay’s snakes and sharks, lumping them in with “lions, tigers [and] bears” and telling us to look at him “like [he’s] the wizard.”It’s moments like this that show us these two artists have developed a strong rapport after multiple collaborations and learned how to play off each other well. Here’s top hoping that they’ll keep working together in the future!
To follow up this track’s premiere, Barclay has a visual release in the works, as well as upcoming performances at the Boston En Masse one-day festival at ONCE Ballroom on 4/29, with Trap Music Orchestra at Brooklyn’s Knitting Factory in June and at the Great Scott with Ed Balloon on 6/29. These Boston shows would be a great chance to check out Haasan’s live show before he moves to New York to enter the next stage of his career. Michael Christmas has a string of tour dates lined up for April and May, which you can see on his Facebook page. He’ll play the Sinclair in Cambridge on 4/21.