Matt Ox is a bit of a conundrum in the game. A 13-year-old white rapper… ok seriously, I can’t give you much more than that; there is precious little personal information circulating about him. He’s from Philly, I guess, and in so many ways he is the corporeal embodiment of SoundCloud rap. Ox’s songs are materialistic, with generally empty lyricism (count the Balmain references). His youth only bolsters this. His compositions are structurally simple, with, approximately, one verse per song and a hook repeated before and after it, unless there’s a featured artist to mix things up. What Matt Ox understands is what Yung Bans, Sheck Wes, Trippie Redd, and pretty much any “mumble” rapper worth their salt does: voice is everything. To this end, OX is a deconstruction of the rap game. Insert the ‘if a 13 year old can do it, ____’ sentiments, and then miss me with them.
Take the finest track, opener “Trident.” On the hook, Ox begins the first few bars rapping exaggerated staccato in his upper register, until he gets to “Pull up on you leave you silent” where he slurs the word “silent” by making it breathier; giving it a menacing quality. He repeats this technique for the following lines, taking the final bar and lowering his pitch to make “I don’t want to kick it” sound extra intimidating. And that’s where Matt Ox’s art lies — he learned from Thug and his contemporaries to tell stories through constant vocal change-ups that make the best songs exhilarating through the act of their development. “Jetlag” shows that Ox can make a complex, memorable hook and provide a solid foundation for more seasoned rappers (here, Chief Keef) to experiment with. He even has potential to be making top 40 hits, as evidenced by the bright production and more refined melody/singing of “Pull Up.” Time will tell if this boy’s talent endures or matures. For now, though, we have this to-the-point, raw, and strangely beautiful debut.
Published as part of What Would Meek Do? | Issue 4