LaLaLand feels like the process of discovering and rediscovering who you are as you age.

With his debut record LaLaLand, Basil Panagop picks up all the pieces left behind by his inner child and compiles them into a collection of hip-hop songs with sharp hits of nostalgia. “Topaz” sets the tone with dramatic fades in and out while the melody recalls youthful games gone by: “It was us against the rest, back to back against the world.”

The multi-talented musician and clothing designer finds his style in his response to homesickness while living away from his Nova Scotia home. With heavy panning and echo effects that create spatial dimensions, Basil Panagop produces a moving soundscape of childhood memories.

LaLaLand explores both the wonder and frustration of self-discovery with synths, soft vocals, and spoken word. While the vocal pitch distortion in “Romeo+Juliet” adds a juvenile mischief to the coming-of-age heartbreak, the interlude tracks reach a sensitivity that reminds me of being a teenager and discovering a song that made me feel things I’d never felt before. 

The warm and fuzzy synth on “Unbound” recalls the unparalleled comfort of early-age innocence, juxtaposed with the realization: “My mama can’t carry me up the hill no more.” The song ends with familiar dialogue between brothers, cousins, or best friends shooting the breeze in their bedroom, with sirens faintly ringing in the background. The playful bickering over basketball stats is, for me, the epitome of those carefree years when ‘pressure’ meant the tick of a videogame timer. “Moulin Rouge” looks retrospectively at the follies of growing up: “to the ego of a boy who thinks he’s a man, burns the candle at both ends.”

Basil Panagop has produced a debut album that is both lyrically endearing and stylistically diverse, drawing on a range of hip-hop, soul, and alt-pop influences. The arrangements hit the theme of nostalgia on the nose with every hammer of the piano and tape machine static. Through all the blissful confusion of youth, “all he can do is break the walls down of who he thought he was”. LaLaLand feels like that very process of discovering and rediscovering who you are as you age, eventually landing on the mantra: “there’s still time to begin again”.

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