Imagine Sun Ra time-traveling to the techno-dystopia in Blade Runner, Marty McFly piloting the DeLorean through the cyberpunk cityscape in Akira. Now you’re in the headspace to digest Metropolis, the latest album of time-traveling dispatches from Nashville multi-instrumentalist, producer, and rapper Namir Blade. Inspired by and named after the 2001 anime Metropolis and its 1927 predecessor, these 16 tracks are chapters of a speculative memoir unstuck in time, a quest for joy as late-stage capitalism crumbles looking wearily to a near-future dominated by tech oligarchs. In his most vulnerable writing yet, Namir shirks wallowing in loneliness and algorithm-induced self-doubt by going to therapy, making art on his terms, and learning to cherish his hooptie.
Namir’s first entirely self-produced album and third on Mello Music Group, Metropolis was recorded in his living room and mixed at home. His digital and live instrumentation hybrids are as unbound as his subject matter. The ominous yet beautiful synths Vangelis used to score Harrison Ford chasing homicidal Tyrell Co. replicants (“Hypercar”), the cavernous drums and auto-tuned croons of 808s & Heartbreak-era Kanye (“BoA”), anime samples, rays of warm gospel and soul (“Memphisto”), and ethereal trap (“Monday Michuru”) coexist and ram into one another. Namir often switches the beat mid-track, the purposeful disorientation becoming more rewarding with each listen. With features from several Nashville artists who inspire him, he brings the future to us. The ride isn’t linear or always pleasant, but as Namir challenges himself and the listener, both get closer to finding their place in the unsettling now and uncertain tomorrow.