Kansas City pop trio BLACKSTARKIDS channel the indie acts of old while still creating something entirely new with their latest album “Whatever, Man.”
Members Ty, Deiondre, and The Babe Gabe have created an aesthetic that easily translates between their new age music and vintage image. A mix of indie rock and hip hop, the band cultivates a DIY sound which adds to their vibrant throwback appeal.
In an interview with DIY Mag, The Babe Gabe shared that “BLACKSTARKIDS music is black expression in the most charismatic way. It’s fun, young, nostalgic, and we put so much of ourselves into our art! Also our music is 100% us and no one else!”
Nostalgia is the word most often used to describe BLACKSTARKIDS, and for good reason. “Whatever, Man” is full of retro synth, melodic vocals, and amusing audio samples. “I wanna live like Britney/Dye my hair blonde, wear clothes that don’t fit me/Or, maybe I can be Fergie/Big girls don’t cry but I’ll cry if you hurt me/Actually I wanna be Gwen Stefani/Hollaback at the boys, no doubt they’ll be on me/Live the life of the party/New age icon, going up, you can’t stop me” The Babe Gabe sings on “BRITNEY, BITCH.”
When it comes to their influences the band cites many indie trailblazers of the past decade, most prominently though is Odd Future. The band told Uproxx that when it comes to the impact of Odd Future, “seeing Black kids make that kind of music, it was like, wow. You can really do whatever you want and create whatever sound you want…I just liked the creativity and their expression. And of course, the aesthetic that they had and how much music they put out.”
On their most popular track “Frankie Muniz” Ty proclaims, “I hate the fact that I miss you/Might dye my hair pink ’cause you dyed yours gray/Just a couple kids trying to dye our problems away/In attempt to hide the fact that we’re scared of the change.” It’s a testament to the youth culture which has shaped both the lives of the band and that of thousands of other teens and young adults who have grown up in the internet age.
“Whatever, Man” showcases BLACKSTARKIDS wealth of talent, seamlessly moving between catchy pop and unconventional hip hop. “BEATRIX KIDDO” nods to indie rock only for the next track, “CAMP WHATEVER,” to feel like 90’s R&B. The change is never abrupt or unnatural though, BLACKSTARKIDS move through genres with ease. Each song is right at home on the record, never losing the old-school digital sound that is authentically BLACKSTARKIDS.
On “CAMP WHATEVER” the band carries a carefree sound with the chorus “Haven’t felt alive in awhile/But I’m not dead/I need your help stepping out of my own head/So let’s live our lives like we’ve only got tonight/Let’s all get right, let’s indulge in every vice.” The album seems built around this idea, of having fun and spending time with friends, the perfect pastime for BLACKSTARKIDS unique and joyful music.