Live For Love by Living Darian
Indie hip-hop star Living Darian is making big waves once again this summer with the release of his latest LP, Live For Love, a record that provides listeners with a full-color look into his remarkably wide-ranging talents without any filtration to come between audience and artist. LD explores everything from G-funk style slow jams in “When I See You Again” and “Carry On” to club pop in the Nevaeh Sky-featured “Bring Up The Lights” (Sky also drops in for “Broken Wings” as well) and raw alternative rock riffage in “Hit The Highway” and the acoustic ballad “Down by the River,” and although his is one of the more eclectic rap albums you’re going to find this season, it’s undeniably among the most brooding of any to see release in 2019.
Living Darian collaborates with an array of talented players in Live For Love, including Quin B. (the Bone-esque “Fork In The Road”), Blizz (“Live The Way I Choose”), Jangles (the remix of the title track) and Born Divine (“Steppin Out”), but despite the epic chemistry that he shares with all of these players, there’s never any doubts as to who the real star of this show is. The sheer presence of his vocal dominates over every beat, and that’s not something that can be said for many of his mainstream peers.
The grooves are just as expressive as any of LD’s lyrics are in “These Things,” “Can’t Stop,” lead single “Tonight It Goes Down” and the understated “One Song,” and even when the instrumental melodies are as captivating as a summer’s setting sun, the percussive element in these tracks keeps us on the edge of our seats anticipating whatever intensity might be waiting for us just beyond the horizon of the next song. It’s not a straight-up concept album, but there’s no getting around the progressive flow that the tracklist of Live For Love has.
If I had to guess, I’d say that alternative rock was just as big an influence on Living Darian coming up as classic hip-hop was; otherwise, explaining the perfect combination of RHCP-reminiscent harmonies in “Down by the River” and the thrust of the Midwestern rebel-rap cut “Gullible” would be next to impossible. As stylistically different as these compositions tend to be, there’s never a moment in Live For Love where LD sounds scattered or unfocused – on the contrary, this is one of the most well-defined efforts he’s shared with us to date.
There’s no need to debate – along with Ronnue’s rhythmic Introduction 2 Retro-Funk and speakea5y’s haunting EP Circles, Living Darian’s Live For Love is a strong contender for best independent hip-hop release of the year. Over the course of sixteen unique songs, he unleashes one of the most diverse soundtracks of 2019 with a swagger that is unparalleled across the board this summer. Whether you’ve been following his story from the beginning or are discovering his impeccable songcraft for the very first time today, this is an LP that definitely belongs on your stereo speakers at max volume this August.