Head Rush

Head Rush

“Never put a artist in a box/They only thought I could do house,” Channel Tres sings on the title track of his debut album, Head Rush. Since debuting in 2018 with the gliding “Controller,” the LA-based artist has become the purveyor of what he calls “Compton house,” a distinctly West Coast blend of house music, hip-hop, and funk. But his skill set extends beyond the dance floor. Early cuts such as “Black Moses” and “2000 chevy malibu” showed his hard-hitting yet atmospheric approach to rap, and collaborations with artists including Terrace Martin, Jungle, Tove Lo, and Gus Dapperton proved his versatility across genres. On Real Cultural Shit, Channel’s 2023 EP, he leveled up his songwriting, boosting his euphoric production with catchy hooks as heard on the defiant “6am.” Channel’s ever-growing Rolodex comes through on Head Rush, with Thundercat, Teezo Touchdown, Ty Dolla $ign, and more appearing throughout the album. It’s familiar in that it still pulses with Channel’s slick dance grooves, but it’s also where he expands upon his songwriting focus and sonic experiments. “Joyful Noise” is a modern take on gospel house, while “Type” brings celestial, speaker-busting rap. Even his signature suave baritone becomes another instrument to play with, getting rugged and fervent on the industrial-coated “Black & Mild.” Much of Head Rush finds Channel enjoying the perks of fame. “Cactus Water,” on which freak flags fly atop swirling disco, is the album’s summer joint with its inviting chorus and funky bassline. He celebrates the luxury goods he previously couldn’t afford on the chugging “Candy Paint” and the beaming “Chain Hang Low,” and “I’m Him” is well-earned braggadocio. But embedded among the joy is a sobering vulnerability as Channel peels back layers of struggles past and present. It’s how on the beat-switching “Head Rush” he can juxtapose the triumph of buying a house with the survivor’s guilt of childhood trauma. Closing track “Here” is a bittersweet tribute to his late friend and fellow artist AUGUST 08, who helped Channel break into the industry: 08 “was a tutor/I was a student/Now we are the future.”

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