Namir Blade
Credit: Seiji Inoyue

Nashville rapper, multi-instrumentalist, and part-time extraterrestrial Namir Blade follows in the space wake of his beloved Sun Ra less through style than through vibes. His new self-produced album, Metropolis (Mello Music), gestures toward Afrofuturism in its woozy synths and hyper-modernistic cover art, but Blade is way too laid-back and into his own loopiness to construct a consistent science-fiction narrative a la Janelle Monáe. Instead, everything floats on a cosmic wind that’s indistinguishable from synapses firing as you kick back in the living room. “Twitter soundin’ like a theremin / Hear ’em knockin’ better let ’em in,” he raps over a Dirty South throb on “Ride,” his syllable-chewing flow twisting from retro space noise to a Little Richard nod before settling down behind the wheel again. “Cain and Abel” name-drops composer Hans Zimmer over a driving, atmospheric pulse that sounds like the score to a suspense film, then slows down into a stoned lounge groove with a chorus sighing breathily in the background. The future for Namir Blade isn’t a place or even a time so much as a collection of styles, references, bric-a-brac, and influences—including Nashville friends and inspirations Gee Slab, Jordan Webb, and JS Kodiak, who each stroll into Blade’s transporter to knock out a few bars. Metropolis is an anti-concept album for an anti-future, and it feels too good to be pinned down by any sort of gravity.

Namir Blade’s Metropolis is available through his website.