Album Walkthrough: Perth rap collective Rich Valentine break down L’avenir C’est Nous
Since coming together in 2017, the nine-strong hip-hop collective put in the work to create a defining debut album that they now walk us through.
To many people involved in Perth's hip-hop circle, Rich Valentine are a group that's been deserving of attention for years now - long over-looked, perhaps. It's a true statement; all the accomplishments of the nine-piece hip-hop collective being a testament to the drive and vision that's fuelled their work since the very beginning, since the group's members - Saint Rich, Blanko, Alien, Big Daddy, Blx Boi, Lino Brown, P, Jools and The R155 - were brought together by driving creativity across a multitude of art forms that's present in their work still today.
In the three years since their formation, Rich Valentine have proved their strengths time and time again. They're synonymous with the new-age, do it yourself hip-hop movement that paved the earliest entrance for acts like BROCKHAMPTON (a cheap comparison, especially considering BROCKHAMPTON's post-Saturation work), with everything they've done being genuine strives for their final vision - complete merch collections, high-tier shows at monumental creative spaces like the Perth Art Gallery, mixtape, videos and other byproducts all included.
They have the same level of excellence - the same precise attention to detail - that you'd expect from prime-era Kanye West or Tyler The Creator, with every single piece of the Rich Valentine world coming together in a way that completes and amplifies their messages. Their music is the core of it and the thing that connects it all together, sure, but Rich Valentine are much more than that - and that's a takeaway message you'll get from the second you enter their universe. Their music may be the painting, but Rich Valentine are all about the art gallery the painting sits in too.
In saying that, their music is something else - and their debut album L'avenir C'est Nous is a testament to that. The album title translating to 'the future is us', L'avenir C'est Nous is an introductory moment to Rich Valentine that encapsulates everything they're about; something that shows exactly why they're so sure - and we're sure too - that they're indeed the future. It veers between tasteful spoken interludes and hard-hitting trap-rap alike, switching up tones as different members enter the limelight and take control, telling the stories of themselves, their communities and their cultures in the process of doing so.
Take Cover Vogue, for example, a subtle take on this woozier hip-hop sound that talks about entitlement and power. Elsewhere, they encapsulate their drive and dedication through empowering bursts of energy (The Hunger Games, Energy), drench themselves in romanticism (Loves Last Ballet), and take the opportunity to one-up those that have long supported them too (the near-album-closing I Miss You being an example of Rich Valentine's work at its most potent and intimate). It's not all about meaning either; I Just Stepped Up In It, for example, being an explosive, whiplash-giving burst of octane that tells the world Rich Valentine are here.
Regardless of what sound they attempt or what meaning their sound charades, L'avenir C'est Nous is if nothing else a showcase of Rich Valentine's continued growth and evolution; an opportunity for themselves to stand tall amongst the madness and say to the world "this is what we're all about" (especially when you tie it together with those aforementioned, auxiliary worlds Rich Valentine build alongside their music, especially in their fashion and visual elements).
With this album, you really do get what Rich Valentine are all about - and you know they're here to stay.
Take a dive into the record below, alongside a track-by-track walkthrough from the band that covers the stories and creation of the album, one song at a time.
The Conundrum of Art
This was the intro to the album for a very long time. I think it was about two or three songs into curating the album that I watched F is For Fake. I heard the quote then looked up the whole poem and I knew that this was the perfect way to communicate what I was trying to say with the album. It’s a perfect question put forth to the listener. Upon second listen of the album it really makes more sense.
I Just Stepped Up In It
Okay so this song we wrote because we were about to play our first festival and needed something to open the show with. In the original version, there’s no guitar solo breakdown and the beat was a bit stripped back. It’s the most braggadocios way we can say “we’re back”. We haven’t released music for a year so the songs our way of saying that we just stepped back up in this b**ch. It’s dope because all the vocalists are on this track just spitting bars.
For this album we spoke about trying to lean away from all the swag trapin and fashion talkin but for this beat we just had to go hard on that. People listen to this song and just feel the illest. We had to deliver that lyrically. The hook came because we were all chillin in my room writing to the beat, and I was trying to come up with a hook after I’d just written the pre-chorus and I looked over in my wardrobe and Blanko’s Palm Angel track pants were there. I knew it had to be that sort of PMW flow so we did that and the rest is history.
Cover Vogue is a song about entitlement and nepotism. The first verse I wrote off of Ma$e and Jay Z’ verses to Feels So Good and BBC. The whole song is this playful colourful spin on an issue I’m sure we’re all faced with.
This was the last song we wrote for this album. I wanted that “pretty”. The pretty that was in the intro. And this was it. The chords, the drums and the hook were the first thing I wrote, it just came to me. The original version has me just mumbling the words that you hear now. I was studying Pharrell around the time we made it and that’s where the structure comes in especially with the post chorus and the instrumental fade out them bringing the beat back. The whole song lyrically is the same flavour as the beat so we just kept it real vibes and nostalgic.
And So They Came, Falling From The Sky
I wrote a couple versions of this beat with these drums. The technique of the melody is kinda what Timbaland does and Kanye where you hold the tonic note over the verses and come back and release the full chord scheme for the chorus. That gives it that epic feel. Lyrically it’s just about being heaven sent etc etc. The title says it all and was inspired by Paolo Veronese’s painting Jupiter Throwing Lighting At Vices.
The Hunger Games
This song is simply about being so hungry for your dreams. In it we detail what we go through to get success and how hard we want it. BLX says it perfectly the first like four bars. He pretty much came to me with this verse about striving and working hard then we wrote and made tweaks, then made the beat the same tempo, then we got the other two boys to jump on it and the song was done. This one came together very naturally.
I’m The Shit/Money Man
Okay so I was listening to Pharrell Outta My Mind Mixtape when I heard this gangsta Grillz beat. I made Money Man with the same drums then Alien Wrote a verse to it. Originally the Hook was the start of his verse but we rewrote parts and made that the hook. Then he went in and bodied the verse.
Energy is about that one line “no one ever dies in their dreams, so wake up with that same energy” - that’s the whole ethos of the song, just to go hard for your goals you know. Then the drop kinda is that gym inspo like morning energy pill. This is that song that gets you outta bed in the morning and is gonna push you to tackle that day ahead. Like asap said, always strive and prosper for your dreams.
Prince was written pretty early on. If you listen to the last hook it asks the question which kinda surmises our point of view. Like what’s the difference between us preaching and a king speaking. Or a teacher teaching. That’s the question we’re asking with this song.
This is a big song! Thematically it’s very layered. The whole song is a metaphor that ties into the last track on our album Lights. So the first half of the song is supposed to represent the world that condones that dark nightlife. That’s why the boys take that persona of a very crude and vulgar male who’s delivering this verse. The middle section is torn, that’s why we layer the high voice with the Lowe voice. Then the last bit is raw and takes u back to reality and that perspective of “that ain’t the right (life)”. It’s cool because there’s a lot of subtleties in the song that allude to different things. One for example is that the first perspective is saturated with autotune and that’s representative of that “fake” and “plastic” life.
Loves Last Ballet
Loves Last is a song about love. It’s about the moment you get struck with Cupid’s arrow. It’s about that ballet with love. That’s why the hook is “dancing in the moonlight”. There’s a lot of Shakespeare and other poets in this song that we bit from.
I Miss You
This song took me so long to write. There are tear marks all on the pages that I wrote down lines from. I just started with, what is it I’m trying to say? So I wrote down a bunch of lines about family and stuff. Then I went in and wrote the verse and hook. It’s cool because the first time you listen to the hook it sounds like a love song because it’s pretty in specific who we miss but then the verses come and it hits different all together. My nonnas in it as-well which is dope.
Lights is the perfect way to end the album. We wrote it about what we’re going to achieve. That song sounds like what our success will be. It’s about all the pretty lights.
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