It’s not critical, but I do love when an artist traces the lines of their life — or at least some road or beaten path they’ve travelled — to explain how they got to where they are, or what lends meaning to their message. “Small Town” is a seamless example of this. With roots in Cassopolis, Michigan (a town with a population of under 2,000), Last Gasp Collective moved to the larger town of Kalamazoo. Kalamazoo didn’t only sport a lack of a hip-hop scene, but featured an actual aversion to the genre. Last Gasp Collective (or LGC) had their work cut-out for them.
So much of this is clear in “Small Town”, in which vocalist Ashley Hicks sings, “I’m living in a small town called K-Zoo, still dreaming from a big town point of view”. The group are known for their live instrumentation, which drives the jazz feel of “Small Town”. If you aren’t lulled by the way the saxophone smoothly shimmies alongside the guitar, then the serious flow of the words will catch you. This is a song that sets out to change people’s minds, and remains memorable at every turn.
The video brings this lounge feel to life with a smoke-filled bar and a steady cam tracking that almost evokes Alejandro González Iñárritu’s film Birdman, but creates its own ripples with carefully choreographed dance movements and the playfulness with which the video handles time. Slowed down, sped up, the clip even moves backwards while keeping time with the music.
LGC have been creating a name for themselves with their stylistic flavours of hip-hop, and you won’t want to miss their next move.