The Age of Mura Masa

by luchaasbroek

The UK producer’s debut is an album that could only exist in the internet age.

In a recent interview, Mura Masa said that his music “comes from geographical isolation more than anything”.

After all, the producer grew up on Guernsey (population: 60 000), a remote island off the coast of France but under British control. (“The queen is on the money,” Mura Masa explains.)

One couldn’t be blamed for assuming then that Mura Masa’s debut would would be a regional effort, influenced by the landscape he came from, in the vein of Forest Swords’ Wirral-inspired Engravings.

But the key word in Mura Masa’s statement is geographical — because musically, his debut album sounds anything but isolated. Instead, it mixes together sonic elements from around the world: UK garage, US hip hop, Calypso, shakuhachi flutes. Even his stage name is a Japanese import.

The reason? The internet.

Mura Masa is a 2000s kid. He grew up with the internet. He might come from a remote island, but with a dial-up connection and an eager ear, he was able to absorb international influences. Even a decade ago, that would have been impossible.

The internet was also responsible for Mura Masa’s meteoric rise. As a teenager, he started uploading his music to Soundcloud, where it caught the attention of a few YouTube music channels. In the handful of years since, he went from producing in his bedroom to working alongside some of the industry’s biggest hit-makers. Some of them, like ASAP Rocky and Gorillaz’ Damon Albarn, show up here.

 

 

It might seem odd that all of this happened to a kid from a British island that I’m pretty sure neither of us had heard of until this article, but really, it happened because of it. “That’s why the Internet was so important to me,” Mura Masa explainend to the FADER. “Because being so far removed from any real cultural influence, it was important for me to do my work online.”

As a result, it might be tempting to view Mura Masa as some sort of commentary on the internet age. After all, the album cover suggests information overload. The obscure samples (vintage video games, a Japanese weather report) feel like a voyage through the weirder corners of the web. And the album’s best tracks (‘Love$ick’, ‘Firefly’, ‘Blu’) are tinged with sadness as if, despite being perpetually online, Mura Masa still feels lonely.

But I don’t think that’s what he intended his album to be. Mura Masa’s here to party, not to ponder.

As Mura Masa himelf explains: “When I started making music I wanted it to have a narrative and be conceptual, but as time went on I thought it was probably more practical for a first album just to have good music.”

I guess that sums up Mura Masa pretty well. A+

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