Arts and Entertainment Editor
Every now and then as listeners, we hear an oddly familiar sound in the melodies of a rather unknown artist. They sound like someone we all know, but yet, they somehow separate themselves from everyone else. Anaheim Rapper, Phora, is this kind of artist.
Phora is a 24 year-old rapper from Anaheim, California. He is often described as a self-made multi-millionaire due to the fact that he started his own record label, Yours Truly, as an adolescent back in 2011.
Employing somber mid-range, soundcloud-esque vocals over toned down, melancholic production, Phora takes the listener on his journey through hell singing, “Love is Hell. But I’d rather fight demons with you, than live among angels without you” on the song “Love Is Hell”.
The album “Love is Hell,” as the title suggests, is a project about the trials of love. It features lyrics and melodies often heard in bubblegum rap; relying heavily on simple and catchy melodies flowing lightly over colorful production.
“Love is Hell” is all about Phora’s heartbreak as a lover. He croons in a light-weighted, breathy vocal delivery. The music on “Love is Hell” is synonymous to the feeling of lying in one’s dimly lit bedroom at night, grieving over a breakup that felt sudden and unexpected. The regret and post-relationship confessionals Phora brings to the album are accompanied by an emotional vocal delivery not too dissimilar to that of Billboard chart-topper Drake.
However, Phora cites his core musical influences to be, somewhat unsurprisingly, J.Cole, Logic and Hopsin. Throughout “Love Is Hell,” it is apparent that Phora’s lyrical delivery and cadences come from familiar backgrounds.
Influences aside, Phora recruits a number of contemporary prominent artists to assist him on Love Is Hell including Atlanta R&B singer/rapper 6lack, Soundcloud flowerchild, Trippie Redd, Troy Lanez and Oakland-based Rapper, G-Eazy. These cameos act as subtle accompaniments, but add a much needed variety on the album.
Love is Hell is an album that discusses the pain, regret, and the emotional hangovers of love. Sonically, the music on Love Is Hell expresses these feelings of deep grief. Love Is Hell is painted head to toe with mind-altering and distorted synths, aggressive snares and warm, introspective melodies.
Love Is Hell isn’t entirely a confessional album. It presents rap flows that pop off like rapidfire. These hard-hitting cadences appear on tracks like “No Scope” and “Done Playing Nice.” While Love Is Hell is largely a confessional album, it also features an assailing tone, perhaps as a result of the combative energy that emits from Phora’s supposed treacherous love journey through hell.
While Love Is Hell is unique in its own right, it still has obvious copycatting in its makeup. The almost whining timbre of Phora’s singing voice sounds like it was derived from the generic and overly angst-ridden realm of soundcloud. It sounds like a moody teenager singing about the various heartbreaks that accompany first loves throughout high school. It comes off as corny and unoriginal; childish and unaware.
All in all, “Love Is Hell” is a heartbreak album from an artist who, if anything, has been terribly hurt and is alarmingly depressed. It communicates these issues through gloomy production, wistful lyrical deliveries intertwined and executed through the tone of a collectively downcast musical arrangement.
“Love Is Hell” is a project that, at the very least, discloses to the listener ever so clearly how the artist really feels.