Quavius’ tunes are all about mood. Pairing deep house beats with hip-hop vocals, the producer born Marquavius McDonald makes wistful music that’s as elusive as it is emotional. His blunted, downtrodden sketches often end as quickly as they begin, feeling like the lingering smell of weed in an empty room. On his recent release, Blue Light Joints, McDonald shows a rawer side to his process.
The effortless beat on Blue Light Joints’ highlight “Sudden Rise” snaps in a submerged house rhythm, the dim-lit scene reminiscent of Drake’s “Passionfruit” in its forlorn, four-to-the-floor trudge. As a compatriot of New York house producer Galcher Lustwerk, McDonald knows this corner of moody house grooves well. Twinkling synths, and airy vocal samples shape the chilled out atmosphere of “Sudden Rise,” but that doesn’t mean it’s always smooth: Quavius stacks his samples in wash of lo-fi fuzz, and he pulls them back rather abruptly. But these rough moments don’t feel clumsy or careless—Quavius writes in fragments, and incomplete thoughts can be the most poetic.