S-Type - Rosario EP
Release Date: June 21, 2014
Record Label: LuckyMe
When Rustie dropped what was arguably the defining mix of 2012, a forecast of sounds and styles that have boomed ever since, nestled within were a number of previously unknown producers with stunning tracks. TNGHT and Bauuer were represented with songs that would go on to top the charts or appear on blockbuster rap albums, helping heave the EDM/dance infused trap style of production into college parties everywhere. S-Type hasn’t quite hit that level of success yet, but his track “Billboard” might be the best of the group that appeared in that mix. It was invincibility given form, bulletproof inspirational hype distilled into an addictive substance. The EP that track appeared on never quite met that same height, but aside from a single poorly formed track ("Whole Lotta" for those keeping score at home) it was a success, and saw a number of well worn rap production styles melded in the producers own image. Two years later and Glasgow's still-ascendant star is back with Rosario, complete with what is presented as his own attempt at crossing over into mainstream rap production.
That foray, the penultimate "Lost Girls," was apparently meant to appear on Drake's latest LP of triumphant spite, and it's easy to envision the type of bars that would have been laid over it. Even the title hints at what might have been - Drake reveling in the pleasures of women flinging themselves at him while simultaneously giving them a chauvinist side eye for doing so. As is, it carries much of that same heft even without the attendant wordplay - there's a sense of hollow ecstasy encased in the blaring horns, but much like Drakes best tracks the partygoers won't pay that much mind when the drinks start flowing.
The rest of Rosario sees S-Type playing with the boundaries of his established aesthetic. The title track is another slice of maximalist dance-trap, a spastic march sprinkled with crashing fleeting drops that pulls itself back together stronger each time. It's a sort of "Billboard" redux, only instead of being flat out unbreakable, it readily absorbs the blows and subdues itself before unleashing all that stored energy in a final salvo. "Franco," sandwiched between such imperious tracks, feels lowkey yet remains a solid addition to S-Type's still nascent catalogue. Handclaps complement the bass heavy production nicely, but the song never turns into the kind of barn burner that have marked his best songs to date.
Maybe most importantly, Rosario is bookended by songs featuring actual collaborations with rappers. Brief as the appearances from Brooklyn's YC the Cynic and the always-reliable Roc Marciano may be, their appearances as a stage setter and the closing remarks are capable and welcome. "My genre is gentrified" says YC on "Outside," a curious remark to make on a song produced by two Scotland natives (yes, Rustie helped produce this one); but it makes sense - S-Type might be both literally and figuratively foreign to New York rap, but his work prior to this is impressive and resonant within the most common rap tropes without being overly indebted to them or a cliche.
The lack of subtlety that these rap tracks are named with is indicative of what Rosario holds - it's upfront about it's ambitions and it's sound is hardly one of understated magnificence, but it still packs a wollop when it aims for it. He stands legitimized by two of New Yorks sons, one of whom made a name by rapping over conservative "90s New York" production, standing in contrast to the cartoonish attempt at bringing Skrillex into the progressive experimentalism of the ASAP Mob fold. S-Type is instead making genuine headway into becoming a full fledged member of the community instead of the outsider that the tracks name marks him as, and his journey to greater succes is already underway, even if most people haven't realized it yet.