We last heard from Boston-area rapper Quinn Essential back in 2018 with his release Mickey’s Boy, an album we found to be comprised of “genuine, contemplative hip-hop, delivered with a high degree of skill and intention.” Now he’s back with a powerful, pensive new album titled Indian Summer. This project is an in-depth look into Quinn’s personal life, laid out for us in a series of captivating stories tied together with his brand of clear, concise hip-hop.
HERE’S WHAT WE DUG MOST…
Opening with the title track, the intro to Indian Summer is an exercise in contrast – a soft, emotional, and deeply musical hook, juxtaposed against Quinn’s sharp rap bars. But the dynamics don’t stop there – it evolves into a powerful electro-rap number by its midpoint, with a driving rhythm section and heavy synths taking over the instrumentation. This is a textured track with plenty of movement and exploration – an absolutely compelling opener.
As the album continues, we’re treated to more layers of sound and boundary-pushing hip hop. Another Day has a distinctly R&B undertone with plenty of jazz-inspired moments; Slipping has pop-rock-ballad tones moving it along. It’s clear that Quinn is unafraid to dive headfirst into different styles and blend them into his work, yet the album as a whole feels entirely cohesive.
Something we thoroughly enjoyed about Quinn’s last work – and find ourselves enjoying once again – is the quality of his lyric writing. He raps with confidence and smoothness, delivering his relatable messages with a presence that radiates experience and comfortability. One of our favorite examples of this is on Burn. This is clearly a track based in intense emotion and betrayal, and those emotions are just dripping from every word Quinn says. The pain, the anger, the passion – it’s all on clear display thanks to his skillful writing: “I made a pact for temporary bliss, never knew it’d end up like this. I curse the sky when I reminisce, I wish I’d forget and not remember this.”
The vocals from Breana Marin are a great addition to Tried, her warm and delicate voice providing a great balance to Quinn’s harder-hitting tones. The production across this album is phenomenal, and this track is a great example of it. There’s a clear understanding of minimalism and balance, letting each component of this track shine when it’s called for, and letting it fade behind the featured elements when it’s needed. The production team on this is rock solid.
We also love Resentful for its smooth, relaxed, but vibrant flow. The hook is particularly catchy, with definitive R&B tones and a pop-based melody giving this track a particularly modern feel. It’s another great showcase of Quinn’s ability to write songs that will resonate with people – the refrain “I think sometimes I’m too resentful, I just don’t know what to do” is an absolute earworm that will be playing in your head long after the track has ended.
OUR FAVORITE TRACK…
There’s something particularly captivating about the track Family Man. Its lo-fi, raw opening that goes on to permeate the entire track creates sort of an Americana-meets-hip-hop genre hybrid, something that’s very rarely seen (and even more rarely executed beyond the level of pop-country). But this track goes above and beyond, building emotion and authenticity off of this vulnerable, real-sounding melodic layer that runs beneath Quinn’s well-crafted lyrics. Its allusions to the folk genre are entirely unexpected and incredibly successful. And like in the rest of this project, the word choice tying it all together is smart and expressive: “Threw me to the lions, I came back the Lion King, not a big deal. I ain’t worried about the minor things.”
This is a unique, artistic piece, and an indicator of the high level of skill and talent that Quinn has on display on this album.
If you weren’t convinced after Mickey’s Boy that Quinn Essential is the real deal, you will be after Indian Summer. Insightful, digestible lyrics, rhythms ranging from quick and cutting to gentle and relaxed, a clear handle on production, and a willingness to explore a variety of genres all while engrossing his audience in a deeply personal journey of the trials and tribulations of love – this project, quite literally, has it all. Quinn has continued to develop his skills and artistic style, and the time he has put into his craft absolutely shows on this excellent production.
BELOW: Listen to Indian Summer and connect with his website and social media platforms. Please support Quinn Essential by visiting him online, and playing, downloading, and/or purchasing his music, or attending a live show! And, as always, thank you for supporting real music!
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