If you follow hip-hop, you've probably encountered what's known as "cloud rap," the dissolute and druggy music made by producers like Clams Casino, and preferred by MCs such as Lil B and Main Attrakionz. It's led a sector of modern hip-hop away from the tripartite forces of minimal machine funk, trance-infused racket and trap-rap histrionics into something more introspective—psychedelic visions of chopped & screwed southern styles. Above all, it's brought on a slew of hip-hop that's slow and soporific, connecting the dots between a number of musical universes (Clams Casino and Main Attrakionz have both released on the experimental electronic Type label), and a trend perhaps no better manifested in the underground electronic world right now than in Supreme Cuts.
The Chicago duo certainly don't make cloud rap, but their R&B and hip-hop-infused brand of sensual gossamer beat music seems undeniably analogous. They're devout hip-hop fans, but their music lacks the top-heavy boom-bap that informs other oddball American takes on it, like LA's flourishing beat scene. The influence instead comes through in the samples and the cascading drum patterns, which are rendered more gently than their inspirations. "I feel like hip-hop is the most dominant thing... the actual influence comes at least 90% from rap," says member Mike Perry. "I've been obsessed with it ever since I was a little kid. It's just naturally going to be what I want to make, what sounds the best to me, what I like to dance to," continues his partner Austin Kjeultes. Locality is a factor too, noting "we've been obsessed with DJ Funk and a lot of the early house stuff, a lot of Chicago tracks... if you're in Chicago, you're gonna see Gant-Man play. Juke and footwork, we just listen to it—you can't not listen to it, it's the shit!"
Their first real visible foray into the world of ethereal beats and sampled vocals was their debut Trouble EP on the obscure Small Plates label, a four-track EP that garnered comparisons to similarly between-genres acts like Mount Kimbie, dealing in quaint and emotional tracks that sounded more like late-night bedroom reveries than early-morning club bangers. The Trouble EP showed an embryonic group playing somewhat hesitantly with a certain set of ideas and tropes that would become ubiquitous over the course of the year that followed its release. Since then, the duo have been hard at work on Whispers in the Dark, a debut album that sees them expanding that universe into true widescreen, a confident realization of their vision stretched out over an hour. "The biggest difference from the EP to the LP was that the EP was just kind of a fluke, more or less. We were still trying to figure out what we were doing. I feel like with Whispers we have a clear vision of Supreme Cuts for what we're doing." [Andrew Rice, Resident Advisor]