When you think about production, you might zoom right to the flashy stuff — the bass bombs, the twisted drops. But Shrimpnose makes a different kind of beat. As you’ll hear on his new album Sullen, his work is fuzzy and mellow, crackling with snaps and touchy syncopation.
Since moving to Minneapolis from Buffalo, Minn. almost three years ago, Shrimpnose (aka Riley Smithson) has become a familiar name on local SoundClouds. He’s a member of rap band CRAM; he’s released songs with Spencer Joles, Nazeem, aYm, and more. His EP Not Really came out in 2017.
Music is especially important for Shrimpnose, who speaks with what he calls a “pretty profound stutter.” In a first-person piece for Pigeons & Planes, he writes, “Throughout my recollectable past, if I reached a verbal block, a voice in my head would tell me the joke or story I was trying to tell, or the question I was trying to ask, wasn’t worth finishing […] Music is the only language I have where I feel fluent and capable of expressing the ideas I can’t verbally.”
Perhaps because of music’s special value to him, Shrimpnose pours special time and attention into his projects. He explains, “Sullen has been a slow process in the making. I’ve polished it over and over again while accumulating the songs until I knew it was ready.”
He had no shortage of life events to draw from. Shrimpnose says, “The album was made during a time of change. I just dropped out of college, fell in and out of love, had some family problems, but also started to see some success with my music […] We’re floating through empty space on a big rock and we’re in a reality where, for a lot of people, both intense elation and crushing depression are both an equally likely possibility on any given day.” Both the music and the cover art, designed by Phib, are meant to testify to life’s duality.
Sullen is available on several platforms here.