$NOT is the 22-year-old Floridian rapper and rising star who is currently taking the social media world by storm. His 2018 single “GOSHA” bragged viral status on both YouTube and TikTok within the first few days of release, gaining him both recognition and support from huge names such as Billie Eilish and Chief Keef, soon getting his music featured on the popular HBO series Euphoria. $NOT has been making and producing his own tracks since his school days, recording with a cheap USB microphone.
There is little else known about the musician whose true identity remains a mystery, his real name being kept a secret, and up until very recently he’d never be caught without a hoodie tightly hauled around his face. This secretive personality dropped his long-awaited and explorative debut album ‘– TRAGEDY +’ on March 6th, featuring 12 tracks at a 29 minute run-time. A major buzz was created among excited fans and attracted the interest of new listeners, whilst $NOT pulled his drawstrings and challenged the ‘bubblegum-trap’ label he’d been previously given by critics.
Total banger “PRESSURE” takes spacey elevator music and gives it a hip-hop makeover, with a chilled flute instrumental by the side of a trap beat and the rapper’s familiar rhythmic verses. There are so many individual parts to this song yet they all seem to fit together perfectly, each playing their own little role in creating an art piece for the ears. “Moon & Stars” is a floaty, sombre, loved-up track and one of my favourites from the twelve, highlighting the way that Maggie Lindemann’s ethereal vocals flow with $NOT’s. This song swerved slightly from his usual style but despite the differences, it received a lot of fan love, and was actually released as a single before being given a place on the album.
The sixth track, “WHAT’S THE PROBLEM“, has a more emotional theme to it when you focus on the lyrics. $NOT touches on death and feeling imprisoned in your mind, over the top of a repetitive and synoptic melody; ‘I got demons in my head and and they won’t let go / Spent a lotta time up in this hell hole’. “STRANDED *” has a similar dark atmosphere, the contemplative poetry describing loneliness and isolation – ‘So demandin’ / Everywhere in life / I’ve been left stranded’. I’m a fan of $NOT stepping out of his usual style and showing his more confessional side; it truly proves how diverse his talent can be.
Accompanied by emo rapper Wifisfuneral, “BERETTA” is packed full of gritty and intoxicating basslines that are more traditional to $NOT’s style, as is “GOSHA” – which obviously had to be included in the album songlist – with it being the iconic Internet-breaking anthem and all. In these tracks, there is humour laced throughout the witty wordplay, reminding fans of what they know and love. $NOT just seems to have a unique way of writing his songs and vocally giving life to the lyrics, producing the beats to have the perfect amount of irony balanced with hip-hop gravity.
‘– TRAGEDY +’ is everything I expected and more: an exploration of genre-bending production and ultimately a career defining moment. $NOT is not just a one-hit-wonder, that’s for sure – and I’m looking forward to the many future releases to come. 4/5