The low-profile Houston producer and singer utilizes elements of contemporary trap music as a jumping-off point for R&B at its most abstract. His blurry portraits offer uncanny clarity.

Not much information is readily available on Bwoy Coyote. All that can be gleaned from his Bandcamp page is that he is a producer and artist who lives in Houston. A sense of mystery also animates his music, which utilizes elements of contemporary trap as a jumping-off point for R&B at its most abstract. It’s easy to get lost in his maze of minimal production and meandering thoughts. On BC, his most recent EP, Coyote distinguishes himself by only gesturing at what he feels, providing the briefest glimpses of his inner world.

Coyote frames his complex lines with the most rudimentary trap essentials. Mirroring the rocket hinted at in its lyrics (“I go takeoff James Harden/Houston Rocket, how I’m balling, takeoff”), “Starpower” launches upward on hi-hats and blinking swells of synth. Coyote trails along behind, establishing a singular statement of purpose in his cryptic lines: “I don’t need no starpower/Just cut me my check.” He speaks these lines first, and then he sings them, doubling for emphasis. His melancholic determination is reflected both by the sparse production and his plaintive vocals. The muted trumpets on “From Here” don’t signal triumph as much as they do resignation, and the song’s slurred, slowed-down percussion sounds mired in the muck of the chorus: “Where do we go from here, baby/Said, where do we go from here.”

Coyote hides his inner conflicts in these cavernous, deceptively simple productions. On EP opener and trunk-rattler “Page” (jointly produced by Bwoy Coyote and Cubeatz), Coyote ruminates over a recently ended relationship. The cluttered hi-hats and reversed synth melodies reverberate with Coyote’s urgent warbling, a discordant mixture that matches the ambivalence of the recollection. Across the release, Coyote sounds like he’s looking back at a past event, determined not to carry the same mistakes with him to the present. He makes his resolve clear on “Spirit=Free” when he hums a halting affirmation to himself over the song’s ticking clock snare and toy-like melody: “Your spirit is free/Be all you want/Be all you can be.”

Coyote finds freedom within the self-imposed limits of his productions, luxuriating in their bounds. Over the whistles and noodling synth pads of “Ben” (co-produced with VVS Chris), Coyote transitions seamlessly from singing to rapping, moving from mocking posers to mourning Nipsey Hussle in the span of a few moments. When he mutters the chorus, “We might be coming up fast/We might be coming up slow,” he’s not embracing apathy as much as he’s narrating a moment in progress. His blurry portraits offer uncanny clarity. He doesn’t provide specifics; instead he allows his impressions to generate a logic of their own. The almost-ballad “Make U Understand” starts with what seems like a chorus (“I can’t make you understand/You just gotta know”), but Coyote quickly tires of it, preferring to list a series of non sequiturs instead: “Cream Russian/Fees coming/Feel like Pharrell/They frontin’.” In Coyote’s telling, love feels as transient and random as the words that get stuck in your head.

Coyote maintains a Drake-tier distance between himself and his emotions, and Lil Uzi Vert’s shadow looms over his mournful melodic choices, but his form, or rather his formlessness, is unique. His drum patterns and sedate melodies stand out because of their stark simplicity; they flash in the dark, drawing you, moth-like, toward them. His lyrics point at images and emotions, leaving any sort of final observation up to the viewer. It’s the nighttime music your mind makes before you drift off into sleep.

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