Featuring an ebb and flow of aggressive tempos and light, uplifting melodies, Den of Lions has established Felix’s penchant for crafting immersive hip hop.
A landmark moment in his creative journey and a solidified introduction of his artistry, Den of Lions is the debut album from Melbourne rapper Felix-Culpa.
Across seven tracks, the record is an emotional reflection on the beatmaker’s own journey, particularly on the struggles, frustrations, heartbreak and anxieties life has thrown at him.
“Den of Lions was an idea I had for a long time, I wanted to really encapsulate the dark times I have faced throughout my life and current situations I was going through,” Felix explains.
“It mainly started off in my bedroom and contacting a couple of producers who I thought had a unique sound to really evoke the feelings I wanted to express on each track. It took a lot of back-and-forth emails but eventually, I found the right team to manifest the vision I had.”
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With an intoxicating flow, infectious instrumentals and biting lyricism, all seven tracks on the album are a testament to Felix’s ability to wield poignant themes within his flow.
Using music as a therapeutic outlet to expose his vulnerabilities and transmute this into an art form, each song provides an emotive and incredibly candid look at the recording artist’s past, bolstered by his cinematic and candid style of songwriting.
“Music has always been a way to express my emotions, whether it was joyous or bleak. To some degree, it was therapeutic and enlightening to spill my guts into a song. It’s not an easy thing to do especially when you showcase it to people you don’t know. It strengthened my internal understanding and gave me a sense of serenity as a result,” Felix says.
“Every line and subject all came from true events and real-life experiences. I thought breaking down my walls and being as vulnerable as possible would connect to listeners more than fabricating a fictional facade.”
A no-holds-barred reflection of the moments that have moulded him into the artist he is today, the album is as honest as it is captivating.
Featuring an ebb and flow of aggressive tempos and light, uplifting melodies, the project has established Felix’s penchant for crafting immersive hip hop, inspired by the smorgasbord of influences.
Effortlessly partnering a melting pot of jazz, smooth R&B and both old school and alternative hip hop beats with his effortless and everchanging flow and lyricism, the rapper’s eclectic sounds are a nod to the likes of John Coltrane, Archie Shepp, Sun Ra, Erykah Badu, Bilal, D’Angelo, Shabazz Palaces, Digable Planets and Isaiah Rashad, to name a few.
It’s the old school jazz, experimental soundscapes, lashes of electronica and even Spanish guitar used throughout the album, in particular, that take the themes and messages to another level, notably on tracks like ‘Tomb’, ‘Perception’ and the title track.
“‘Tomb’ was addressing all the issues and anger I had at that stage in my life,” Felix explains.
“Specifically, it had to do with integrating back into society when I served time and how much people ostracised me because of my past mistakes. It delved into trust issues, learning bad ideals from my father and relapsing.
“The crux of it all is murky and raw content which is provocative even for me to write but I thought doing it over a fast upbeat instrumental would lighten the load of adversity and make it an easier and catchy listen too.”
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Mixed and mastered by Rambito from Burn city MV and produced by the likes of Donavelo, Jez King and Cheap Limousine, Den of Lions is bolstered with talent, bringing out the best in Felix’s sound and elevating the album to new heights.
“‘Yesterday’ was a track that resonated with me heavily. Jez King, who produced the track, did a great job with interpreting the sound I was describing to him. ‘Yesterday’ was a spontaneous idea I was riffing with, and I felt like it was an effortless track to make,” Felix explains.
“Another track that was astounding to me was ‘Bulletproof’. Donavelo, who produced the track, did an amazing job especially with his guitar riffs and aesthetically soulful chords. I felt like I did that instrumental justice and really put myself into the track, so everything amalgamated mellifluously.”
Emotionally driven and vulnerable at its heart, Den of Lions is packed with soul-baring cuts lined with pent-up emotions and bouncing melodies. It feels simultaneously energetic and melancholic, reinforced by a flow executed with flair.
A solid debut, Den of Lions sees Felix-Culpa produce tracks that have both substance and allure, and is one that will resonate with both alternative and old-school hip hop fans alike. Certainly one to watch in 2021.
Den of Lions is out now. Give it a listen below.
For more on Felix-Culpa, head here.