Saint Pepsi – Hit Vibes (2013)

After a whir of bubbly synths and slap bass set the tone, a can of soda is cracked open and a voice proudly proclaims “It’s Saint Pepsi, bitch!” Saint Pepsi was the recording name used by Ryan DeRobertis for a series of Bandcamp releases from 2012 to early 2014. Currently, DeRobertis produces music under the alias Skylar Spence. Hit Vibes was released under the Bandcamp label KEATS//COLLECTIVE in May of 2013. Hit Vibes falls under the category of future funk, a sub-genre of vaporwave. The aesthetic and musical roots of future funk are almost identical to vaporwave. The genre as a whole has a fascination with lo-fi sounds and the revival of old songs. In this case, the source material typically stems from 70s funk and disco songs that are re-hashed and sped up to make more upbeat and danceable tracks.

The intro track, “Hit Vibes”, is one of the greatest intro tracks I’ve ever heard. The brief dialogue at the beginning perfectly sets the tone and creates a great deal of hype for what’s to come. Luxury, fine clothes, and parties are just a small taste of what Saint Pepsi has to offer on this album. This minute-long teaser grabs the listener’s attention and entices them to listen further.

Hit Vibes showcases a handful of revived dance tunes that have been edited, chopped, and enhanced to be poppy and danceable in this day and age. From standard disco tunes like “Have Faith” and “Better” to the hard synth wave and funk styles used in “Cherry Pepsi” and “Around”, the aesthetics and musical endgame are identical. The idea of bringing back hits — or even lesser-known B-sides — and making them appealing to a younger audience today is remarkable. This creates a split meaning of the album title: The songs on the album deliver vibes that are a hit, or the vibes on this album come from the dated hits that they sample.

The constant drive of upbeat dance tunes are periodically given a break with more traditional vaporwave songs such as “Together”, “Interlude”, and “Miss You”. The steady breaks in the energy work well in pacing the album as a whole. Although they are stylistically different and their source materials greatly differ, these slow-jam tracks are comparable to early vaporwave songs through their use of drawn-out samples. Of course, vaporwave (and future funk, for that matter) don’t have to sound a certain way; similarities in compositional style don’t dictate what other artists in the genre have to do. As  t e l e p a t h テレパシー能力者 sarcastically stated, “Vaporwave is just slowed down music in Audacity.”

There’s no one way to compose anything. Vaporwave and future funk are no exception.

Hit Vibes is one of my favorite albums of all time. Each song is incredibly catchy and full of energy. The way that Saint Pepsi structures this album is phenomenal. After the intro track, the listener is thrown into a dance club. The upbeat and reworked dance tracks are perfectly framed by tamer more relaxing compositions. This isn’t far off from what a DJ would do when mixing a set for a dance. Having high-energy dance tracks interspaced with slower songs is more or less expected in that scene. If you’re into funk, disco, or dance music in general, Hit Vibes is essential.

Favorite Track: Have Faith

Honorable Mention: Around

Saint Pepsi - Hit Vibes

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