From his more distorted, syrup-paced 2012 release, Black Pleasure, Memphis alternative rapper Cities Aviv's song “Simulation”, in hindsight, can be seen as a precursor to his newly released album, Come To Life. The Internet vs. Your Humanity was its main focus as it questioned how real can someone be when their time is primarily spent in the digital realm. At the top of the second verse he shouts, “I don’t know what you are dude. With 30,000 usernames, which is the real you?/ You bees on this internet. You bees in the trap/Discography your mixtapes that bees in a trance.” Come To Life’s first full track, “Fool”, starts off with, “Don’t be foolish nigga. Yeah you must be stupid/ if you think they give a fuck about this message in your music/The trouble and the bass, now a trending topic/ But tomorrow such a phase. A name without a face.” In the next track, “Head”, he says, “Surfing through the surface but we never through the cracks.” He doesn’t waste time establishing the album’s theme: finding and holding onto your identity without being an android, while the world grows increasingly digital and distracted from reality.
On production alone, Aviv made a compelling record with Come To Life just by slightly tweaking Black Pleasure's sound; most of the album would be enjoyable with or without vocals, and that's no slight to his execution. Here he takes age-old rap conventions like soul-sampling and speeds it up to create instantly danceable tracks. Considering how unconcerned his music seems to be with adopting any popular conventions, his attempt at getting a rouse out of people feels genuine which, when paired with the dance-encouraging beats, alludes to Memphis rap’s past. Project Pat clearly didn't give a fuck about how the internet affected us but his music was eerily intimate. Robbery and selling dope never seemed so reasonable before Pat’s nursery rhyme flow crammed entire scenes into a couple bars. “First of the year, tax time keep me with a smile/ Ima get a extra couple of G’s claiming your child/ Yeah it’s wild but this is the world that we livin’ in,” is what he said in Layin’ Da Smack Down’s “Choose U”. It puts you right into the middle of his story and his conscience. There's a weighted narrative, but you can easily enjoy the song if you just focus on the beat. Other Memphis natives like Three 6 Mafia, 8Ball & MJG, Yo Gotti and Playa Fly have had songs that possess dual appeal as well. That's what Cities Aviv pulls off here. The album’s strongest combination of lyrics and production comes with its lead single, “URL IRL” (acronyms for YOU IN REAL and I IN REAL). In the self-produced track he accelerates and loops a sample while he shouts “Coming back to life until you know what’s good,” during the hook. The first verse's opening bars are: "Realize. You recognize. Come to life my nigga/ Do you know what's good? Like you should. Rep your status. Rep your hood/ Fuck that gossip shit you talkin'." Lyrically, the song is a guide to the album’s digital therapy session take on tackling some of millennial's key issues with narcism, entitlement, instant gratification and self-identity.
In his early twenties, Cities Aviv is not only suggesting you to grapple with cyberspace but he’s also talking to himself as he falls right into the middle of the millennial generation. He tells someone to hit him via text but to not use emojis in the B L A C K I E- produced “Perpetuate The Real”. "CTL1" is a recording of Abdu Ali giving his take on what "Come To Life" means. Towards the end he says, "Bring magic into real, breathing, living life. You know? And just be alive." Minor details like these validate the album, in that, you get that this isn't just soapbox bullshit when the looking glass is turned onto the speaker. Aviv's heavy sampling and use of early computer-sound synths also bring a full-circle perspective on the album—which is him admitting his own use of a necessary evil, while in the process, trying to keep himself in tact while using it. On all fronts, Come To Life is relevant, thoughtful and engaging.
Purchase "Come To Life" HERE.