‘Yacht-Rap’ Florida duo to play Winston-Salem
Florida is, like the South itself, a place that the rest of the country doesn’t fully understand. (People can, and do, debate whether Florida is part of the South.) You have to spend a fair bit of time in the Sunshine State to get a feel for its character, its vastness and its idiosyncrasies. The hip-hop-inflected indie synth-pop duo Hurricane Party is distinctly Floridian. The band just released its debut full-length LP, Juice, a record that tips its hat to Florida in all kinds of ways. Hurricane Party will be playing a show in Winston-Salem at Monstercade in one of a string of their first non-Florida dates in America. (They’ve also toured parts of Europe.)
The band’s name refers, of course, to a very Florida-centric social event. A hurricane party is a gathering of people who hunker down during a tropical storm, ignoring evacuation warnings, riding out the wind and rain, sharing the limited resources, partying while the lights flicker, and using up whatever’s left in the freezer before the power goes out. There’s something appropriately reckless about the concept. (Anyone’s seen the “Florida Man” account on Twitter knows that the state is sort of proud or at least infamous for its theatrical brand of lawlessness.)
I spoke with Richard Colado, one half of the duo, last week by phone from his home in Jacksonville. His collaborator, Bleubird, is from Fort Lauderdale, in South Florida, which gives the band a sort of pan-Floridian quality.
“Florida definitely has this particular flavor,” said Colado, 38, who’s lived in Jacksonville his whole life. “It’s just a weird place. I’ve always kind of liked it, too. Part of me thinks, If you’re from Florida, you’re always from Florida.”
Both Colado, who performs under the name RickoLus, and Bleubird have their own solo projects, but Hurricane Party is something that allowed them to bounce ideas off one another. The result is the musical equivalent of a coastal town with no zoning regulations, where motels, vape shops, shoe stores, schools, cemeteries, condos and auto dealerships all get jammed together wherever they can fit, and garish signage is unrestricted. The delirious mash-up factor is very much part of the Hurricane Party sound. The visual aesthetic is a mix of airbrushed license plates, neon, and the particularly ‘80s vibe of Patrick Nagel’s paintings. It’s beach kitsch. Their sound has been called yacht rap.
Colado said that when he and Bleubird began collaborating on the Hurricane Party material, it all felt effortless and infused with the right kind of energy. The feeling just needed to be documented. They didn’t need to think and debate about what their goals were.
“Whenever I’m recording, there’s always that goal to capture something that’s happening as opposed to manufacturing something,” he said.
Hurricane Party is definitely informed by hip-hop and rap, particularly in the magpie approach to grabbing bits and pieces of other things and reassembling them. Crips beats evoke ‘90s-era artists such as De La Soul and the Wu-Tang Clan, with hints of the Chemical Brothers and Folk Implosion.
“That was one of my favorite concepts about hip-hop: it was this recycled collage-type of music,” Colado said.
But he makes it clear that it’s not quite accurate to call Hurricane Party a hip-hop act.
“Overall, we’re more of a pop group; we’re not a hip-hop group. It’s not hip-hop enough to be hip-hop,” he said. “I feel like we’re more pop, which is the all-encompassing genre.”
A song like “Pamplemousse,” which means “grapefruit” in French — a very citrusy/Floridian title — has touches of soft rock and sunny psychedelia, even. (There’s another song called “Orange Juice.”) “My head is everywhere, I can never pin it down,” goes one of the verses, suggesting that the all-over-the-place nature of the music is a subject of the songs as well. Just to keep you guessing, they wedge a rapped bridge in between synthy choruses.
Other tracks, like “Space Mountain,” shift unexpectedly from ominous indie hip-hop sections into goth-rock refrains. (Note the Disney connotation in the song title, a reference that returns in the band’s Magic Kingdom-ish logo.)
Funky breakbeats, acoustic guitar, shout-along choruses, and dreamy synths all get piled on top of one another at different points. And a Babel of other languages shows up, too. One track has a German-language skit referencing a Jacksonville skate park. Elsewhere someone recites lyrics from an Oasis song in French. It’s meant to be absurd, and it’s ok if only a couple listeners even figure out what’s going on.
The track that serves as the Florida lynchpin for the record is “Swamp,” which has shout-outs to fellow Floridians the 2-Live Crew and includes the refrain “you ain’t from around here, you don’t come from down here.”
Florida may be known as a place where people go to retire. But it’s also a state with plenty of people who grew up immersed in the culture of the place. Hurricane Party isn’t necessarily trying to sell the rest of the world on Florida, but they have a sense of bemused pride in the place and in its one-of-a-kind strangeness.
“I’m not trying to be from anywhere else,” Colado said. “I’m from here, I never left.”
John Adamian lives in Winston-Salem, and his writing has appeared in Wired, The Believer, Relix, Arthur, Modern Farmer, the Hartford Courant and numerous other publications.
See Hurricane Party at Monstercade, 204 W. Acadia Ave. in Winston-Salem on Friday, Aug. 9.