Right out of the gate, Living Darian’s new album Live For Love, released earlier this year to mass acclaim, digs its vibrant hooks into us with the sizzling opening salvo “Hit The Highway,” and following its mix of swinging beats and stinging riffs we’re immediately met with a bludgeoning hip-hop harmony featuring none other than Mr. Quin B. stepping up to the mic in “Fork In The Road.” This white-hot collaborative effort sets the pace for the next couple of songs that follow, starting with Jangles’ remix of the title track and finishing off in the deconstructed pop-rap of “Bring Up The Lights,” which brings Nevaeh Sky into the mix for the first of two tenacious duets with Living Darian, who is unquestionably in top form in this powerhouse of an LP.
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“These Things” and “Can’t Stop” are both driven by eccentric piano melodies, but the latter definitely has more in common with the surreal throwback hip-hop that has been taking over underground airwaves in the last few years than the former does. They’re about as black and white a pair of rap tracks as I’ve reviewed this summer, and next to the profoundly experimental “Down By The River,” rather conventional by design. “Down By The River” is a rock song with a gritty soul centerpiece that aches with more emotion than I thought I would find on this album, and together with the churning ballad “Carry On,” justify picking up a copy of Live For Love as soon as you possibly can this August.
Blizz teams up with Living Darian for “Live The Way I Choose,” a song that recalls old school Twista as much as it does contemporary progressive rap, and though it’s not quite as engaging a collaboration as “Steppin Out” is, it’s still an essential part of this tracklist that I wouldn’t even dream of skipping over. LD gets a little grainy in his delivery for the spellbinding “Gullible,” embraces pomp and rich excess in the party-starter “Tonight It Goes Down,” dances a sinfully addictive dance with Neveah Sky in the remix of “Broken Wings” and teases a self-awareness that is downright infectious in “When I See You Again,” but even when he experiments with ambient textures in “One Song,” he always sounds not only in full-control of the aesthetical trajectory of Live For Love, but boldly erudite in his direction of the music.
Live For Love concludes with the smoky “Thank You,” and while this closing number is probably one of the least-experimental compositions of any you’re going to find on this album, it finishes us off on a particularly high note that complements the melting pot of melodies that precede it. If you’ve never heard the music of Living Darian, this LP is an undisputed must-listen, as it contains some of the most powerful performances that he has committed to master tape in the decade-plus that he’s been in the game. He’s got a one of a kind talent that has only gotten better in the last few years, and I for one can’t wait to hear what he does with it next.