Sound Advice: Brave New World, by The Airplane Boys
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Sound Advice: Brave New World, by The Airplane Boys

The Scarborough-based duo returns with sharper rapping, but the same great hooks and production.

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Hip-hop purists have always been a little suspicious of The Airplane Boys. They sing too much, their production borrows too heavily from EDM, and they look like a menswear blog rendered in 3D.

On their new mixtape, Brave New World, they prove beyond a doubt that even with all those outside influences, they can still more than pull their weight as rappers. Both halves of the Scarborough-based duo have a talent for rapid-fire delivery. On songs like “Complacent Virtues” and “Tokyo/The Righteous,” MCs Beck Motley and Bon Voyage manage to cram an almost unreasonable number of both words and pop culture references into every verse. Both tracks require multiple listenings.

While they may share a talent for speed rapping, Beck and Motley are remarkably different from one another. Even when he’s rapping, Motley can’t help but sing a little. He delivers most of his verses in a melodic, sing-song-y tenor. This is balanced by Voyage’s more aggressive, gravelly growl.

While Brave New World may feature the Boys’ strongest performance as MCs to date, their defining feature is still eclectic production and almost insanely catchy hooks. And the pair have clearly been honing their skills since releasing last year’s mixtape, Alignment. In addition to being a better rapper, Motley has grown as a singer. The plaintive-yet-infectious chorus for “Never Know” is the kind of heartrending stuff that has the potential to be a chart-topper, while the bouncy hook on “Complacent Virtues” is an absolute earworm. (You can listen to “Complacent Virtues” by clicking on the sample above.) Production-wise, Brave New World embraces EDM without totally submitting to it. The influences are clear and strong, but they never take over.

2012 was a big year for The Airplane Boys. They played Coachella, opened for Snoop Dogg in the UK, and toured Asia. If Brave New World is any indication, 2013 will be the year they go from buzz band to pop stars.