Maze Koroma dropped a very good video for “You’ll Always Be My Sunshine” in the final days of January. A lot of people missed the release because it came around at a time when the U.S.A. was experiencing something like a presidential inauguration. The track comes from the Portland rapper’s EP/album – the comprehensively titled: It’s Complicated It’s All Happening So Fast Even Though I Can’t Keep Up With You You’ll Always Be My Sunshine. There’s a tightness to the album. The collection depicts the political tension that currently hangs in the air like pepper spray, but it also speaks of other aspects of the human condition, like… well, sunshine.
A member of the Renaissance Coalition, a collective from Portland, who mindfully navigates away from rocks of hip hop cliché, Koroma doesn’t sit neatly in what is expected of genre. This is psychedelic rap, but without the glaring burns of acid or the smoke-eyed bullshit that demands we watch another tale of urban grit, re-imagined for the purposes of self-mythology.
The video, which is directed by Koroma and Riley Brown, has a mesmerizing effect. Slow-motion passages, normal world locations, and everyday apparatus, like basketballs, supermarkets and swing sets transform Maze Koroma into the kind of figure you’d see in a David Lynch movie. This is reality, but it’s a reality potent with the kind of beauty that happens when the lighting is too precise, too revealing – so there’s an unnerving element too. Koroma is a trusted narrator, guiding us through the landscape of the normal uneasiness of this world.
Passions across the collection are wound tight, so tight you’re waiting for things to snap. Koroma’s lyrics place subjects under microscopes, so even the ugliest parasite can posses a kind of other-worldliness that, when observed with this sense of awe, becomes quite beautiful.
Koroma is the son of immigrants from Sierra Leone, and describes his home as being ‘typically African’. He was introduced to hip hop via an older brothers Wu-Tang and Outkast records. He progressed from writing poetry to performing rap around Portland, saying that he didn’t really know what he was doing. Perhaps it’s because of this lack of awareness that he has preserved his unique footprint.
The collection It’s Complicated It’s All Happening So Fast Even Though I Can’t Keep Up With You You’ll Always Be My Sunshine is available on EYRST – a label on the upswing. The video, clearly, is available here. Put your eyes on it.
We award Maze Koroma 6.5 out of 8 slow-mo slam dunks.
HURRY – LISTEN – MAZE KOROMA