Genre, as is the case with all things, is a needless construct. Too often do we find ourselves unwittingly confining ourselves to our teensy bull pens, afraid to experiment or diverge from our chosen forms because we assume that to be successful, we must sound a certain way. Because of this, we’ve forgotten that it’s not the cookie cutter crooners that we remember, it’s the mad scientists; the artists (yes, artists, not singers, radio rotationists or otherwise bland nostalgia peddlers) that are eager to plunge into treacherous waters and string their listener along that force the Spotify engineers to once again define a new genre algorithm (instead of just adding them to every playlist they might remotely resemble. How’s that for visibility?).
Cali-based singer-rapper-writer turned fledgling punk-rocker, and my good pal, Waylin Flaza, towers over the musically timid as a monumental example of life beyond the great wall of genre. Waylin has stomped through trip and hip hop, smooth pop, R&B, lo-fi, now making their way into a full blender of punk, rap, and breakbeats, with five new singles slotted for the new year and the full Swindler’s Love record supposedly due at the end of 2024.
“NAVIGATION,” the latest addition to Waylin’s Swindler’s Love series of singles, is a decadent new chapter in the storyline. Featuring the poignant verbiage of Atom Black, follows our protagonist as they come to grips with their newfound freedom and feelings, finding their way through the dating pool and making all the wrong turns along the way. “NAVIGATION,” from the first listen, is a West Coast players ballad. As it skips around between Waylin’s melancholic and yearning chorus and Atom’s punchlines and playboy-ish tendencies, the full story pieces itself together; following a youngin’ trying to bounce back strong and puff out their chest, show out and flex before the longing and loneliness creep back in at the end of the night.
As one would come to expect with this series, we managed to trick Waylin into selling their soul for a feature episode (I asked them very nicely if they wanted to hang out and nerd out about music on Zoom for a bit) to chat “NAVIGATION,” punk rock and hip hop, and all things Waylin Flaza ahead of their Friday release. Check out the interview below!
NAVIGATION: Swindler’s Love, Issue 4 is available everywhere Friday, December 22.
Lilly R. Photography