I’d been set to write about Kevin Gates’s brand-new mixtape, By Any Means, when I noticed local rapper Chandler London had dropped a new EP from nowhere—or perhaps deep space, which is kind of what the new Ritchie: A Space Odyssey revolves around. London calls it the introduction to a space rap opera, an idea that he’s been working on for six years (at least that’s what he told Fake Shore Drive). It didn’t take London quite as long to record the EP, as he used instrumentals from Satellite Flight: The Journey to Mother Moon, an album Cleveland MC Kid Cudi released unexpectedly exactly three weeks before Ritchie came out. Cudi isn’t the only interstellar-minded pop star whose influence appears on the EP—David Bowie is right there in the title of the opening song, “Space Oddity.”
London’s built his spaceship with the massive engines of past (or in the case of Cudi, not-too-recent-past) pop tunes, but he’s flying it without much of a map. He sounds lost, and that’s kind of the point, especially when he pushes his voice till it nearly cracks while rapping about outrunning bloodthirsty automatons on “Attack of the Killer Robots.” From what I could find about Ritchie: A Space Odyssey, there isn’t much information about the titular character’s home planet or his particular galaxy, not even a name, which reinforces the idea that London’s character is blasting off into a vast, unknown universe. While London’s galaxy lacks specific details, he’s focused on giving Ritchie shape, and he pulls it off with his melancholic Auto-Tuned singing on the the closer, “SOS.” I can just see the dark heavens swallowing Ritchie’s spaceship as London slowly stretches out his words, his processed vocals sending ripples through some syllables.
I’m not sure what London’s aiming to do with Ritchie, but I think the rapper might’ve left a clue in “SOS,” specifically in the lyrics he’s posted on the Soundcloud page for the song. One of the lines says, “I need some peace of mind,” but “peace” is spelled, “p3ace,” which happens to the the stylized title of Netherfriends’ killer new album. London’s collaborated with Netherfriends main man Shawn Rosenblatt, and I’m hoping the two will work together on some of the ideas London has for his space rap opera.