Today, New York savants World’s Fair are releasing their debut album via Fool’s Gold. New Lows includes previously-released singles ‘Elvis’ Flowers (on my grave)’, ‘Win4’, and ‘Dundas Street West’ and showcases the cunning lyricism and provocative braggadocio that only World’s Fair can provide. The album is a masterclass in collaboration as each member of the group feeds off the energy of one another to craft a diverse collection of musically adventurous songs that all feature World’s Fair’s quintessential New York twist. In celebration of New Lows, World’s Fair will be hosting an album release party at New York’s Elsewhere on September 20. Tickets on sale 12 PM EST / 9 AM PST.
About World’s Fair and New Lows:
In the era of the soloist, a genuine Rap crew is the rarest of jewels. Most groups these days have less in common with a unified artistic collective like the Wu-Tang Clan than with purely opportunistic individuals. At their worst, you have a central Hip-Hop star padding the ranks with his lesser pals. At their best, you get World’s Fair.
The Queens-birthed troupe of Remy Banks, Jeff Donna, Lansky Jones, Nasty Nigel, Prince SAMO, DJ THOTH, and Cody B. Ware signify both the diaspora and its most logical conclusion, a confluence of cultures that could only be found here not just in the greatest of cities, but in its greatest borough. With friendships and alliances forged in public school classrooms and on mass transit, the group boasts seemingly disparate heritages including Dominican, Filipino, Jamaican, Jewish, Haitian, and Puerto Rican, all magically aligned by a long-standing and shared love of Hip-Hop. This representation is further reflected in the neighbourhoods they originate from, storied locales such as Corona, Forest Hills, Flushing, Jamaica, and Rego Park.
“That six degrees [of separation] was like two degrees for us,” Jeff Donna succinctly summarizes. “We’re the physical embodiment of Queens.”
These youthful connections coupled with a post-collegiate propensity towards attending the same parties on Manhattan’s Lower East Side provided the necessary conditions to create World’s Fair. Some members had already established themselves as solo acts earlier this decade, while others had formed smaller groups together, namely Children of the Night. “Real naturally, as the friendships built, it was like, why don’t you jump on this song,” explains Remy Banks.
Facing a lack of support for Queens artists in a scene dominated by Brooklyn events, they found it expedient and advantageous to team up.
“It was strength in numbers because we felt like we were not getting the love we should be getting,” says Cody B. Ware. “We were very polarizing.”
Once touted, and lumped in with, the mediagenic millennial New New York Rap movement alongside the likes of Action Bronson and Flatbush Zombies, World’s Fair transcend trend. Neither Boom Bap revivalists nor trap opportunists, they draw instead from a pool of influences past and present that includes everything from Lost Boyz to Dancehall to Depeche Mode to Hardcore Punk, and so on. Not surprising given their ’80s baby pedigree, classic ’90s New York Hip-Hop forms the foundation of the crew’s communal core. Still, many of the members’ individual musical touchpoints precede their given generation, playing a less overt though very tangible part of the World’s Fair sound. The end result, while undeniably Rap music, challenges people’s expectations of the now expansive genre.
Those quick to declare New York Rap either dead or done showcase an ignorance of what World’s Fair has to offer. The imminent arrival of New Lows, the forward-thinking and deeply compelling full-length follow-up to 2013’s Bastards Of The Party mixtape, ought to put an end to that fundamentally flawed narrative. With gripping production by Black Noi$e and NOLIFE, the album weds the sounds of South Jamaica with those of South London and South Detroit, resulting in a futuristic yet grounded mix of agile lyricism and bass scene bombast. Elements of juke and footwork as well as industrial and techno all factor into New Lows, which suits the Fool’s Gold label aesthetic just fine.
“We really got to say, all those drum kits on all those tunes, let’s put that on Rap records,” says Nasty Nigel. “It make perfect sense to have this record come out that does that.”
From the woozy vibes of ‘WF001’ and ‘Denny Davito’ to the unabashed ruggedness of lead single ‘Elvis’ Flowers (on my grave)’ and ‘Win4’, this is Hip-Hop at its most vibrant and liberated, as at home cruising through Queensbridge Houses as in the most progressive of underground nightclubs. A far cry from the stereotypes of what was once known as the New York Sound, the sonic uniqueness of New Lows is indeed deliberate and provocative, part of a lengthy process where the group set out to differentiate themselves from everything else out there–and succeeded.
While its contents exude Queens, with plenty of local references to catch, New Lows wasn’t recorded within the city limits, but in a secret location about an hour or so upstate. “We went away to the woods,” says Prince SAMO. “There was nothing but us.” While not traditionally how World’s Fair tend to operate, that week-and-a-half in essential isolation proved creatively fruitful, allowing for the members to play off each other’s strengths and focus on their craft in an environment free from distraction.
Egos weren’t remotely a factor, with members opting into given tracks without crowding anyone else out. If someone was feeling a particular cut, they wrote for it. If not, they tagged in another member that they felt would flourish over it. At any given time during their upstate stint, the collaborative energy was as high as it was democratic, yielding something greater than the typical bars-on-bars-on bars approach one expects from multi-rapper cuts.
“We made a conscious effort to make an emotional core of the lyrics,” explains Lansky Jones.
Additionally, the vitality of New Lows adds further promise to World’s Fair’s already infamous reputation as live performers, at Fool’s Gold Day Off and elsewhere. Vigorous to the point of polarizing, high energy sets have been a trademark for the crew since their early days, ramping up in subsequent years as the crew’s aggressive and entertaining tactics became clearly co-opted by countless other Hip-Hop artists. The anthemic, epic quality of these new tunes seem destined to shake the foundations of any venue that dares to book World’s Fair in 2018.