After steadily building her reputation as a gifted producer and DJ with a distinct ear for moody rhythms and a love for old school hip-hop, Chile’s LIZZ is ready to unleash Imperio Vol. 1., her first EP of original solo material. The six-track set, debuted here at Remezcla, is a journey through the dark moods and inner psyche of the multi-talented artist. Its title also hints at LIZZ’s ambitions as an artist that goes beyond mixing beats or even rapping into something deeper and more meaningful, while also staking her claim as a rebel supreme in the burgeoning urban scene of South America.
Pairing forlorn, phone-receiver rap bars and airy vocals with beats that alternate from trap soul to unrelenting EDM drops, the collection is described by LIZZ as “nü hip-hop future vibes.” She had a very specific vision for the art direction of Imperio Vol. 1, which she carried out in partnership with photographer Rocio Aguirre and designer Aaron Marilaf. One look at LIZZ’s futuristic, fembot appearance on the backdrop of a desolate, industrial wasteland helps set the scene for the sounds included within the EP.
On EP opener “Noche,” LIZZ delivers defiant, monotone raps before melting into a despondent sung hook. It’s the perfect intro to the diverse, ambling, and often downbeat world that the MC occupies throughout Imperio Vol. 1. Elsewhere, “Piscis” (released just in time for Pisces season, which began February 18) emobides the versatility of both the astrological sign it’s named for, as well as LIZZ’s overarching efforts on Imperio Vol. 1. Once again alternating between muted-yet-fierce bars and more angelic sung vocals, “Piscis” also boasts a face-melting trap drop in its middle, with a gleeful climax at the 2:34 mark that rides out sans vocals until the very end of the track.
“21,” perhaps more than any of the other tracks included here, represents the “old school hip-hop” vibe that LIZZ speaks of as a key influence. It calls to mind the late 90s/early 00s boom of Latin rappers like Baby Bash and South Park Mexican, while the hook could have easily been an Amanda Perez feature. LIZZ saves the set’s closer, “Chacal,” to debut a predominantly English track. It’s a strategy that more and more Latin hip-hop acts are employing (see: Fuego on Fireboy Forever 2), as the trap and hip-hop that’s already in full effect among the Latin listening audience in the States continues to slowly gain a foothold in Latin America. Lyrically, LIZZ proclaims herself the baddest bitch (or “Queen Chacal”) with a staccato delivery and musical backdrop reminiscent of a Trapzillas flip.
While six tracks (including the brief intro) might seem like a tease for a musician who has been building anticipation for her grand arrival, as an artist with a very distinct vision, Imperio Vol. 1 deftly sets the stage for what’s to come from LIZZ. Vol. 2 has already been promised, perhaps including some of the many tracks that were recorded and left off of the first set. Regardless, it’s clear LIZZ is willing to make a statement with her art, and allow us to share in some of its deeply personal inspirations, but only on her terms.