Loud, playful, and full of smoldering angst, the hyperpop rapper’s new album feels emblematic of the moods and textures that this scene aspires to capture.
At the core of “likewise,” a standout off ericdoa’s thrilling new album COA, is a massive, messy breakup made messier by stray heart eyes and the tease of celebrity. Singing with a scummy scowl, ericdoa channels all the hubris churning inside him, careening between late-night drives and money dances, bloodshot eyes and wads of cash on the nightstand. It’s what I imagine having your world shattered as an almost-famous teenager feels like.
That’s the energy throughout COA, which vaults ericdoa into an unmissable presence in the glitchy, amorphous wave of online rap that Spotify curators want to call hyperpop. Loud, playful, and full of smoldering angst, it feels emblematic of the moods and textures that this scene aspires to capture.
Then again, ericdoa himself is representative of what a hefty chunk of this crowd looks and sounds like: He’s 18 years old, deeply online, a disciple of Lil Uzi Vert, Bladee, and Lil Peep, and he lives in Georgia by way of Connecticut. His snarl sounds transplanted from a Hot Topic in 2005. In “movinlikeazombie,” one of his most popular songs to date, his bit-crushed alter ego Dante Red is drunkenly stumbling down store aisles, holding $3,000.
That sort of absurd, imagistic writing isn’t entirely lost on COA—Dante makes a return on the delirious “do or die (interlude)”—but it takes a backseat. The record is instead caked with thick slices of melodrama, like the cavernous “self sabotage,” where ericdoa sings of screaming from rooftops about an ex he’s not over yet. Nearly every song on COA is about an ex that he’s not over yet: an ex pulling him in too close (“deep end”), an ex who tried calling him eight times (“2008”), an ex that texted him at 2 p.m. asking if he’s up yet (“thingsudo2me”). This surprisingly works in service of the record, rendering it a brisk, 23-minute gulp of teenage angst.
The production, too, feeds into that feeling. COA is constantly twitching, lurching, finding new ways to shape and interact with ericdoa’s voice, which is tuned in different ways, layered, even chopped into tiny pieces. These producers—chief among them glasear and kimj, who contribute to eight of the 11 tracks—share the frantic mindset that no element of the beat is safe after ten seconds. The drums switch up a half dozen times on “mistake,” touching on EDM, drum-and-bass and arena-sized rock. “loose ties” fully unravels from ericdoa’s towering chorus into a soft, synthetic bed for Grandma’s verse.
It’s an unhinged, indulgent record that can teeter on being overwhelming. ericdoa gets lost in the noise on “ivy,” where his verse is drowned out by the blaring drums. The opposite isn’t exactly appealing, either. The closing track, “plea,” is a sappy, cheap-sounding acoustic ballad clearly meant to function as some sort of grand turn or unveiling. But the bulk of this album operates in a sharp, controlled chaos that ericdoa thrives within. For a hyperpop scene still finding its footing (and itself) COA may prove to be a foundational work.