Worth the wait. For years, ECCO2K has been considered to have the most potential in Drain Gang, an artistic collective that includes himself, Bladee, Thaiboy Digital, Whitearmor, and Yung Sherman. But during the six years ECCO2K has been a member, he is only now dropping his first official solo album. Before now, he has had 20 singles, collaborated with Bladee and Thaiboy Digital on 2 albums, and been featured in a number of tracks. Though the collaborative albums with Bladee and Thaiboy have never had high reception from listeners, his singles are drastically different. In my opinion, he has dropped some of the best singles cloud and emo rap has to offer. Of those singles include, Ｐｌａｙ Ｅｍ Ｌｉｋｅ Ａｔａｒｉ, a 56 second song of pure joy. Except that wasn’t the full song. Years later, during a photo shoot with ECCO2K, the full version of this song was played. Fans have been begging ECCO2K to drop the full version of this song and an album for years. It has gotten to the point where a number of his songs have gotten leaked, leading to the release of an unofficial ECCO2K album, Beauty Sleep. This release only amplified ECCO2K’s potential to drop a quality solo album. Easily boasting the most intriguing production from Drain Gang, ECCO2K’s songs were much more ambient and in turn, atmospheric. This quality helped put ECCO2K’s singing and rapping front and center, which is way less annoying than other Drain Gang members’, to say the least. But not all of the songs on Beauty Sleep were fully realized, making it inconsistent, but great nonetheless. Beauty Sleep was a firm reminder of ECCO2K’s potential and I would have been just fine if he didn’t drop anything after its release. But he did.
E serves as a confirmation of ECCO2K’s potential coming to fruition and shows how much he has changed within his 6 relatively quiet years in Drain Gang. Ever since 2015, ECCO2K’s singing has become much more prominent than his rapping, and that is still the case with E, as it is an alternative r&b album. That’s not to say that ECCO2K is done with rapping however, as the last two tracks on E can be classified as experiment hip hop. These songs have harsh qualities to them, resulting in a huge change of pace from the rest of the album. They showcase an energetic ECCO2K with his usual catchy lyrics and knocking 808s, making E’s climax very refreshing. In contrast, the rest of the album is very ethereal, and ECCO2K’s singing only complements the production. ECCO2K’s airy autotuned singing helps bring every song’s atmospheric instrumentals to life and make me feel like I’m lost in the future. A more recent change to ECCO2K’s music is the inclusion of androgynous vocals which show how much his vocal inflections have improved. Though ECCO2K’s deadpan delivery worked miracles on singles such as HOLDMEDOWNLIKEGRAVITY, his more lively vocal inflections help fill up the space of the atmospheric instrumentals throughout E. It’s through ECCO2K’s vocals and more specifically his lyrics that I feel comfort when lost within E’s cold soundscapes.
Lyrically, this is an album about self-hatred. People try to find happiness in a multitude of ways. For ECCO2K it was drugs. Heavily abusing them when having no control nor concern of life, ECCO2K looks for support on Don't Ask, but it did nothing at all. ECCO2K had been and remains obsessed with presenting himself perfectly, yet thinks he will never be able to do so. On Security!, ECCO2K sings about not recognizing himself and seeing all of the images of himself that he had killed, when closing his eyes. He feels sick seeing himself and poses some interesting questions; “What would you ask if you had one wish? If you could choose only one thing to fix? If you had the chance, would you change something? You could lose yourself, would you take that risk?” It's lyrics like these that make me appreciate ECCO2K’s music as a member of the LGBTQ community. Though it can be interpreted in other ways, I've always seen ECCO2K's lyrics to be something relatable for us. Continuing on to the following song, Time, ECCO2K acknowledges he loses himself in pursuit of being different. Despite all of the pain it has caused him thus far, he continues in hopes of turning his self-hatred to self-love. And even if he does, on the following track, Blue Eyes, ECCO2K still feels alone as everyone else will see him as they always have. With no acknowledgement of what they desire to be seen as, a different type of hatred remains. To me, E is very relatable. From the self-hatred, drug abuse, obsession of perfection (I have edited this review at least 15 times), issues ranging from social to more personal ones, being mental and psychological, E envelops me like a layer of clothing, and gives me confidence moving forward, knowing what ECCO2K has been through. Overall, I’m satisfied with this release and look forward to whatever ECCO2K releases next. Drain Gang.