A glowing review of SCRAPYARD by Quadeca

2023 was maybe my favourite year as a music listener. Ever.

I discovered so many awesome new artists and bands, as well as diving deep into older material that I had been putting off for a long time. Expectations were high going into 2024, and after a lackluster month of January, we got ourselves an early album of the year contender from an unlikely source.

Let me tell you a little bit about a fella named Ben Lasky. Ben was making FIFA videos as a teenager and would occasionally try his hand at rapping. Famous YouTuber KSI went to say that Ben “couldn’t rap”, which prompted the release of this music video:

This was my introduction to Quadeca: A KSI diss track that has since garnered over 38 million views on YouTube. The track itself is totally acceptable with Ben actually showcasing some technical ability, but it’s that “lyrical miracle” white boy rap that typically puts red flags all over my brain.

Ben released his first full-length LP: “Voice Memos” in 2019, and it’s one that I haven’t heard a lot about (even from the artist).

Obviously, the pandemic was an absolute gut punch to the entire world, but we all changed and grew over that 2-3 year period. The same can be said for Ben, who released his second record: “From Me To You” in 2021. While still raw, this album showed a much more diverse range of sound, especially with its first single “Sisyphus”.

Ben’s true breakout came in the form of 2022’s: “I Didn’t Mean To Haunt You“, a concept record told through the lens of a ghost who is trying grasp his new reality. This, to me, is when Quadeca became Quadeca. 

Although he has another album on the way, Quadeca scattered some “scrapyard” material throughout the latter half of 2023. These singles were so good that he eventually compiled all of them (15) into one mixtape: “SCRAPYARD“. For my money, this is my favourite album of 2024 so far and it isn’t particularly close. I’m typically not all that crazy about most of the styles (yes, plural) that are showcased on this record, but it just hits so damn hard that it’s impossible to overlook.

It may be a mixtape, but what’s on here is so good that I classify it as a full-length album. Both the production and songwriting on this thing is just consistently great.

Look no further than the song A LA CARTE (feat. brakence). I’m typically not a fan of music that pulls from the emo, bedroom-pop side of things, but this song just does it for me. Not only is the production lush and vibrant, but the lyrical content is all about feeling uncomfortable about sex, which is an incredibly vulnerable thing to talk about. Brakence really sells his feature well as he’s fully vulnerable in discussing a difficult topic over what is one of the most beautiful, yet hard hitting hip-hop instrumentals I’ve heard this decade. Quadeca’s tremored vocal patterns on the chorus are hooky and infectious, though I understand why many find it off-putting.

“I know you never grade looks, still feel like a fiveBut you said if we make love and I start to cryI can let it all out, shouldn’t rationalize but goddamnDo I deserve that you can’t hear me now?”

This is a very early ‘song of the year’ candidate for your boy, here.

There aren’t many other straight up ‘hip-hop’ tracks on this album; the sound on this record is seriously diverse. WAY TOO MANY FRIENDS is one of the other few which fit into this mold, and it’s a great depiction of Quadeca clearly struggling to manage several friendships at once: An all-too familiar problem for a lot of folks in their early 20s (me, I am one of those people).

Maybe the hardest hitting hip-hop cut on the entire record comes directly after with GUESS WHO? A grimy, snot-nosed “I’m him” track that I am all ears for. The bass on this one is incredible and I love the references to Liverpool footballers Sadio Mane and Mohammed Salah in the chorus.

We’ve had enough fun, let’s discuss some of the darker material on this LP.

DUSTCUTTER is a perfectly unsettling opening to the mixtape with its earie, yet infectious synth melody which mixes perfectly with Quad’s disturbed vocals. PRETTY PRIVELIGE is another fantastic emo track with distorted, droning ambience and just an overall unsettling vibe. This one is another bit of lyrical excellence from Quadeca as well, as he dives into self-image issues and dysmorphia as a whole.

“Why did you say I was pretty?I wanna know what you meanIf I was really so prettyI wouldn’t want to be seen”

If you’re a fan of Xiu Xiu, I think you’d find value in tracks like: U TRIED THAT THING WHERE UR HUMAN and BEING YOURSELF. I don’t know, I personally see a lot of parallels between these two and some of Jamie Stewart’s work.

Yeah, this album is incredibly versatile, yet we haven’t even touched base on some of the prettiest songs on the album.

EASIER is another duel threat with its great production and lyrical content. Quadeca clearly has feelings for this one person; but isn’t sure about them; but actually, wait, he’s REALLY sure about them; okay wait no now he thinks he wants her because she’s “easier”. It’s an uncomfortable situation that is enhanced by some stunning acoustic guitars and trap instrumentals.

U DON’T KNOW ME LIKE THAT is a vibrant melodic hip-hop track that sounds like it could be a BROCKHAMPTON track (an awesome one, at that). This is another one of my favourites on the record: The piano runs activate every possible neuron in my brain and ascend me to greener pastures, and the outro is an electronic outburst in the best way.

GUIDE DOG is one of the sweetest love songs I’ve heard in quite some time. While it is one of the shorter tracks on the mixtape, it’s one of the main songs I find myself going back to. Lyrically, this might be my favourite song on the album, as Quadeca is clearly infatuated with someone and makes it known.

“PleaseYou would tell me that you don’t agreeBut I am half the man you would be if you were meI watch you like I’m not worthy”

That line. Right there. Like a million daggers to the heart.

Finally, TEXAS BLUE (feat. Kevin Abstract) is, handedly, the most beautiful track on a record filled with beautiful tracks. The overall vibe of this track carries it hard, but that’s not an issue. Everything from the vocal harmonies; to the layered instrumentals; to the lyrics; everything about this song absolutely rules. It’s the definitely the most “vibey” of the bunch and I’m glad that Ben saved it for last. A perfect closer.

Will SCRAPYARD end up being my pick for album of the year? I mean, it’s far too early to say that right now, but what I do know is that it will take something truly extraordinary to top this. It’s been over a month since this bad boy got released and yet I still find a ton of enjoyment from basically every single track here.

It’s fun, terrifying at times, and incredibly diverse: SCRAPYARD isn’t a typical mixtape, it’s something that’s impossible to ignore and push to the side, and is worthy of your time. A truly special album.


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