Rickstar • Under The Influence • Release Date: August 4, 2014
In the entertainment world, there’s always talent that hasn’t received the attention it deserves. It’s sad of course, but the music industry is a beast – even more so given the enhanced competitiveness and cooling album sales. Even so, “when you got it, you got,” as former American Idol judge Randy Jackson would say. And this 24-year old South London dude Rickstar, well, he’s got it!
Rickstar arrives on the scene with plenty of musical influences within his sound. Most notably, the 24-year old South Londoner’s sound can be described as “80s funk, pop, and rock.” After listening to his EP Under The Influence, those characterizations would be accurate, specifically the “Funk pop” description. Under The Influence is hip, but also hearkens back to the past, specifically the 80s. As an introduction to the artist for many, Under The Influence definitely “puts in work!”
“Superhero” kicks off with a sick groove instantly inciting head nodding. Rickstar brags, “I’ve got the power / to brighten up your nights whenever you need some.” While Rickstar likely isn’t Spiderman or Superman per se (call it an exaggeration), he sells such sensibility exceptionally well. The single from Under The Influence makes a truly strong first impression by all means.
“So Dope” retains the energy supplied by “Superhero,” thanks to incredible vocal energy and the rhythmic nature of the production. Because “So Dope” is so rhythmically pronounced, it possesses a natural, danceable nature about it, arguably even more so than “Superhero.” Rickstar’s vocals, in addition to being highly energetic, sound both soulful and clear. Rickstar goes two for two early on. “Go Rick, go Rick, GO!”
Once more characterized by the intensity of the rhythm, “For The Record” arrives with a big sound; there’s heaviness, a weight about the song. The use of synthesized strings, not to mention other synths/programming makes “For The Record” incredibly alluring. That doesn’t even consider Rickstar’s standout vocals, the songwriting or the catchiness of the song’s chorus itself. “For The Record” is another solid slice of the pie that is Under The Influence. At this point, everyone’s drunk off Rickstar.
Feet remain on the dance floor on “I Hate U,” which continues solidly in an electro-infused, pop influenced, contemporary R&B vein. The drum programming is contemporary, but again recalls the 80s. Additionally, vocally, there’s the spirit of Prince alive and well. That isn’t likening Rickstar to Prince – they’re two different musicians – but that vibe and sensibility is perceptible.
Then, the “House Party” is definitely ‘turnt up,’ with house-drums fueling its fire. Vocally, Rickstar continues to shine, showing off pipes clearly deserving wider recognition. As Rickstar sings, “Just dance the night away.” “House Party” makes you want to do just that! “*Bonus Track* So Dope (RIOT REMIX)” gives the listeners an contrast to the original “So Dope” that keeps those feet stepping.
Ultimately, Rickstar does his thing, plain and simple. If Under The Influence is a introduction and measurement of the musician’s potential, things are nothing short of bright. All five original songs, plus the bonus remix, are enjoyable and provide a foreshadowing of Rickstar’s musical direction. Don’t sleep on this young burgeoning musician – there is massive potential there.
Favorites: “Superhero,” “So Dope,” and “For The Record”