1) 852 Echo
2) Mac Miller
3) City Waves (ft. Mabel Lau)
4) Fight The Withdrawal
5) Mary Jane (ft. Onlyone)
6) Find Me Uptight
7) Honeymoon with You (ft. Zack Calixtus)
8) On My Mind
9) A Lioness at Best
10) These Eyes
New Zealand-born rapper Triplesix has always looked up to the rap and rock gods. We’re talking Biggie, Eminem, and all the classic hair metal titans who you found on your dad’s cassette tape deck. In Drugs, Love, Sex, then Love, he endeavours to combine influences from all his beloved heroes, splicing together lo-fi hip hop, guitar tracks, and a 90s rap flow to add an experimental twist to the Soundcloud scene. He takes time to comment on and show sensitivity toward the opioid epidemic currently wreaking havoc in the States, with drugs and addiction playing central themes in Triple’s songs and allowing him to explore their dark recesses- and shine a light at the end of the seemingly endless tunnel.
Opener 852 Echo, with its catchy chorus and choppy lyrical flow, establishes Triplesix’s roots in his adoptive home of Hong Kong. The verses are wryly reminiscent of HK rapper Skibs’ notorious track Hong Kong Kids, which had sparked citywide controversy with its open depiction of teenage drinking and drug consumption. If Hong Kong Kids was the high school anthem in the 2010s, perhaps 852 Echo strives to achieve the same ends today.
The emotional Mac Miller is Triplesix’s homage to the late popular artist, who died of drug-related complications in 2018. Triplesix touches upon some serious themes in his lyrics, ruefully blaming the “booze & pills” in an open admonition of the opioid epidemic which continues to surge in the United States.
City Waves is atmospheric, smooth beats building complex sound textures. Mabel Lau chimes in for some psychedelic vocals, her higher pitched range creating a compelling contrast from Triplesix’s sharp tongue; Grimes, anyone?
The rock influences edge in for Fight the Withdrawal, a track which provides flavours of Lil Peep’s signature scuzzy vocals. Guitar samples ripple over reverb bass as Triplesix explores themes of drug abuse, depression, and one man’s journey through the treacly depths of addiction.
True to its name, Mary Jane is a low-fi, chilled ode to Triple’s favourite provocation. Playing on the colloquial street name for cannabis, the lyrics personify marijuana as a loving (but emotionally unstable) eponymous girlfriend. Triple’s push-and-pull battle with drugs continues in this track, as he is seduced by his addiction to marijuana despite recognising the destructive consequences of other psychoactive vices.
Find Me Uptight harkens back to the 90s hip hop days, with keyboard synths aplenty. The lyrics centre around the experience of quitting prescription drugs, specifically a beverage concoction of cough syrup and soda called lean, which is popular in certain music subcultural scenes. Continuing in the vein of social commentary, Triple says he “Put the codeine down, no longer f*ck with the lean”, again addressing the spate of opiate-related deaths amongst young rappers in the United States. By using his voice to address these issues through catchy song, Triple effectively spreads awareness of this very real crisis (and spits a killer bridge to boot).
Honeymoon with You would be cheesy if it weren’t so gosh darn tuneful. Triple captures that unique 90s feel and flow, reviving the era of boybands with his and Zack Calixtus’s vocal harmonies. It’s pleasant, melodic, and I swear the Backstreet Boys played something similar on their tour last year.
Taking the leap into sung-through clean vocals, On My Mind veers more into the lane of softer rock. Acoustic guitars and drums provide the framework, as Triple challenges his singing voice to attack classic rock styles to achieve a different sound. The risk pays off, with On My Mind being one of the most memorable tracks – if not for any other reason, than because it is a rock track on an otherwise rap-oriented album.
Lioness at Best elevates his Soundcloud cadence with a touch of old school Hollywood Undead, with slick beats and rhythms which really pull focus. Lyrically the track speaks of an ex, a one night stand which evolved and soon turned sour. Triple does what he does best, sandwiching a catchy sung chorus between rap segments to truly crystallise his sound and technique.
Aspirational and determined, These Eyez look ahead to Triplesix’s future and his goals yet to be achieved. It even gives an allusion to “breaking lockdown”- very topical indeed. The track also takes a moment to look back to his past as a third-culture kid, rooting his art in this personal context but not defining himself by it.