Ice Water // Loyle Carner
I’ve previously written about UK rapper/R&B artist Loyle Carner’s recent album Not Waving, But Drowning, covering my first impressions after a short few days of absorption. I’ve returned after some time to confirm my initial suspicions: it’s damn good.
“Ice Water” is one of the more lively songs on the album. Initially, this energy seems incongruous with Carner’s feet-kicked-back rhyming style, but any of these concerns dissipate when the beat drops. Carner settles into this emotional pocket comfortably, driving and commanding the bouncing rhythm while maintaining the slick, effortless patterned rhyme schemes he’s established as his wheelhouse. The dynamic duo between Carner’s lyricism and the beat’s head-bobbing nostalgia build off each other, making “Ice Water” a certifiable summer jam to roll down the windows to.
The playful energy Carner carries behind the mic makes his verses that much more dynamic. In the chorus, the line “Break up, we ain’t need a reason… to” has a mischievous, winking comedic timing of the “…to” that ends the line, delivered with a hint of humor and amusement. It’s clear that Carner genuinely enjoys the music he makes, and it’s all the more magnetic as a result.
The hook, “My french vanilla butter pecan / bouncing back and forth every weekend” was stuck in my head all weekend. There are a lot of words rappers have rhymed with “weekend,” but “pecan” is a new one to my ears. Carner, who has an extensive background with cooking, often blends references to the pastime into his music. And though the rapper-chef market may be mostly cornered by the great Action Bronson, it’ll never get old to hear a rapper spit bars about french vanilla butter pecans.
Carner’s ear for old-school hip-hop instrumentals is strong and tasteful, and “Ice Water” is no exception, complete with record scratches and sampled soul music. The beat is deliciously summery and full of life — it just makes you want to boogie. Is there anything more to say?
Carner’s lyricism has the linguistic sensibilities of a poet, with galloping rhymes weaving in and out of downbeats. His vocal performance doubles the impressiveness by sheer casualness alone. Some rappers spit with ferocious, animated electricity — and that’s awesome, don’t get me wrong — but there’s something to be said for laid-back deliveries as well. Carner rarely betrays the cool, calm and collected demeanor he brings to the mic, letting bars spill off his tongue as if the intricate rhyme schemes and often-obscure references are just no big deal to him. It’s not detachment or carelessness; it’s composure.