As a music journalist, I’ve perpetually disappointed friends by not knowing who is the Next Big Thing. I don’t even know what the “in” genres are anymore, though I know from countless essays that hyperpop is having a moment in the limelight. The concept is a style I’ve been fascinated by for ages, but never had a word for. The movement that began with arrhythmic, industrial noise records had me hooked; I was ready to support every effort of Sophie and Arca despite not fully understanding the history they were making. Tama Gucci, operating on his own timeline, fits squarely into the hyperpop movement, placing extra emphasis on his raw vocal talent in his EP, Almost Blue.
I’ll always feel a connection to a Miami artist, especially one who has expatriated from SoFla. The sunshine seems to be everywhere in Almost Blue, starting from the first cinematic transition in the intro of “Put It In Drive.” And then we’re flooring in the drop-top, cruising down A1A as Tama Gucci expresses restlessness and guilt but also affection and lust. The Bandcamp liner notes reveal that the EP title is a commentary on where the artist sees himself in his life and career—his favorite color is the apex of existence, but he hasn’t quite reached it yet.
Regardless of where he stands in the industry, Tama Gucci, né Kymani Floyd, is at the top of his game. For all the talk about hyperpop as a genre I did earlier, I need to spend equal effort praising Floyd’s beautiful voice, which is the true star of the 2021 record. Moments that do not require melody in a strict sense still beg me to sing along, like on “Show Me”: the first verse wavers gently with precision, while the second drips with desperate emotion as Floyd demands to know how deep a lover’s feelings go.
Almost Blue was recorded in early 2020, written entirely by the NYC-based musician and largely self-produced except when Nick León was involved. Their collaboration led to a cohesive body of songs, united by subtle orchestral movements. What makes the biggest impact, and has me returning to the EP over and over, are the moments that make the tracks distinct—from the coordinated moans on “Bedroom” to the uneasy harmonies on the bridge of “Panties.