After a five year hiatus, Queens rap collective World’s Fair is back with their latest album New Lows. We’ve seen collectives — most infamously the Wu-Tang Clan — have large gaps in between album releases because of the difficulties of getting so many artists on one page, but that wasn’t quite the case for the cadre of Remy Banks, Nasty Nigel, Lansky Jones (who also form the Children of the Night trio, independently), Prince SAMO, Cody B. Ware, Jeff Donna, and Maachew Bentley.
Perhaps New Lows’ 7/20 release date was symbolic for the squad, as they took three spins at creating a sophomore album before deciding on the thirteen tracks that comprise the finished product.
As we spoke on a Brooklyn rooftop on a balmy July night, Nasty Nigel lamented that their first sessions after returning from a 2014 European tour began to feel like “clocking into work” because the talented rhymers, many of whom grew up together in Queens, created solid tracks that nonetheless, as Prince SAMO admitted, “never made an impression on us.”
Undeterred by their perceived inability to craft an acceptable follow-up to 2013’s heralded Bastards Of The Party, they regrouped at Brooklyn’s Atlantic Studios in the summer of 2015, then took their sessions to the respective recording studios The Beagle and Tea Room during the fall of that year. Each time, the prospective album they developed failed to meet the high bar they had set for release. A large collective like World’s Fair has the luxury of piecing together a plethora of verses into solid tracks at the drop of a dime, but it can be difficult to get everyone on a cohesive accord as each member tends to their individual or intra-collective musical endeavors.
During one particular session at The Beagle, the crew — many of whom had all been experiencing their own personal lows — agreed that it was time to shake up their creative process. Bentley recalls that they were paid nicely for a festival “that they had no business doing,” and used the money to get out of their bustling home city and record in the serene seclusion of LaGrange, New York. The small town (Pop: 15,000) was formerly called Freedom, and the crew tapped into that legacy for a week-and-a-half session of creative liberation. Members of World’s Fair have a footing in seemingly every New York underground music scene, from hip-hop to Cody B. Ware’s black metal work — and it’s all on display on the sonic smorgasbord that is New Lows.
Through the vision of gifted producers Black Noi$e and NOLIFE — and an iPhone projector randomly playing everything from Chicago Juke to Calcio Fiorento games — they were able to cull from myriad influences and find their groove for the project, recording most of the album in their LaGrange cabin.
The progressive record, like so much great art before it, is a result of overcoming hardship and leaning on each other in a time of need. It’s also a testament to what a group of New York artists can create with time, isolation, and an abundance of alcohol. You can hear the rest of our conversation, conducted before the album launch, in their words below:
How are you all feeling about the new album?
Nasty Nigel: It’s super exciting to have an album coming out because we get to say who we are. When it came to our other songs, they were viral [before ‘viral’ was a thing]. It was like ‘oh, kids from Queens, this is what your sound is.’ So anything that didn’t sound like kids from Queens didn’t really stick with people. So now, because we took time off and no one is expecting anything from us, we can drop whatever the f*ck we want.