AF THE NAYSAYER “PARTS, Act I” (Sinking City Records)

af-the-naysayer-partsAmahl Abdul-Khaliq (AF THE NAYSAYER) is like water. His sound is slippery and, like the abstruse function that inspired the first part of his moniker, hard to pin down. It’s also necessary. The California-born producer first brought his music to Louisiana’s baron electronic landscape during his time at McNeese University in Lake Charles, when he started making beats on FL Studio. Soon, he was playing live shows and helping to germinate the seeds of an intelligent dance music scene in southwestern Louisiana. In the early 2010s, he created the Dolo Jazz Suite, a collective of like-minded producers across the state, breathing new life into a scene dominated by dubstep. He moved to New Orleans permanently in 2014. He lives a simple, plant-based lifestyle here, producing, bike racing, and teaching the next generation of beatsmiths at the Upbeat Academy.

AF released his debut LP, Armed Wing Battle Unit, in 2016. It’s a concept album, the soundtrack to a fictional shoot-’em-up arcade game, like the ones he grew up playing. His new EP, the first in a three-act series titled PARTS, takes a different approach. Though still influenced by 8-bit and other video game sounds, PARTS, Act I also incorporates more traditional hip-hop elements, as well as abstract electronic influences such as contemporary minimalist composer Jan Jelinek.

Of the EP’s four tracks, three feature rapped vocals. The opener, “Honey Vinegar,” explodes into a fiery verse from Baton Rouge’s Darby Capital after a minute-long instrumental build-up. The second and fourth tracks, “Whirlpool” and “I Don’t Feel Bad,” feature blistering bars from Taiwanese rappers ILL MO and Formo Sir, respectively. The third track, “Don’t Forget My Energy,” the only song on the project without vocals, is a slick, highly danceable jam that’s comfy for living room listening, and rhythmically engaging enough for club play. Overall, PARTS, Act I is a promising taste of things to come from a veteran rainmaker in Louisiana’s electronic desert.