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Ithys is volatile and brooding on his debut single "Love All Night (Modern Walks)"

05 May 2023, 15:00 | Written by Eitan Orenstein

Written and produced in the wake of two harrowing months living on the streets, South Korean rapper Ithys seeks grounding and reconciliation in the lyrics of his debut cut "Love All Night (Modern Walks)"

A track which testifies to the restless ennui of modern life, Ithys’ upcoming single "Love All Night (Modern Walks)" is something of a misnomer. A collaboration with producer Jordan Lewis (Travis Scott, Drake), it represents a restless reconciliation for Ithys, in an attempt to work through lengthy battles with depression and homelessness.

Divided into two parts, the first half of the song (or, "Love All Night") is inspired by Nana, a Japanese manga strip which revolves around the coming of age of two young adults who move to Tokyo in search of fame and romance. For Ithys, this was a case of rendering the visual aesthetics of comics across different media: “I tried to portray the emotions and melancholic yet peaceful imagery of the comic through my lyrics and sounds.”

The transition into "Modern Walks" in the track's second half is more alien and futuristic. Dense lyrical flows oscillate between Korean and English and weave a patchwork fabric of defiance and irreverent swagger, reflecting not the tender interior of a lovesick self but the cold and calcified exterior of an individual hardened to the dangers of emotional surrender. A sampling from Sophia, an AI humanoid interviewed at the future Investment Panel in 2017, can be heard over the bridge, and adds a further element of alienation.

Ithys’ tone on the track is prickly, braggadocious, and full of dark pride. Fragmented lyrics trip along to a crisp, pulsating trap beat which precludes time for pause: “Let’s talk about trend / It can be the fashion or symbols, ambition, whatever you treat / I won’t give a shit about your vision / No reasons.”

“I thought of [trend] as a broader category,” states Ithys, “because many trends are classified in terms of one single modernity.” What little can be gleaned by way of didacticism on this track is an active affront to discipline and authority. Pleasure, power and style take precedence, as the inflated ego runs riot. Repeatedly, the “you” is dismissed, and the “I” placed at the fore.

The result is a heady concoction of self-affirmed narcissism and weary anhedonia; a uniquely modern-day brand of hedonism which sighs at the anatomising excesses of late capitalism. While expensive brands are casually referenced, there is a repeated allusion to the belief in the dream of self-betterment to get out of the rat race: to “drink and love all night” but also “stay and work all night.”

Ithys acknowledges how the volatility of his sound makes univocal interpretation difficult: “interpretation can vary based on personal experiences, and I respect all experiences, so I hope that the image drawn from each person's experience becomes the interpretation of my music.” Now out in the world, it’s up to the listener to decide for themselves.

"Love All Night (Modern Walks)" is out now. Find Ithys on Instagram.

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