Cambridge, Massachusetts artist Rothstein is here with High Water, a debut album that he admitted over email he wants “you to ride around to in your sh*tty car to and feel like you’re in a Ferrari,” but also listen to “when your heart is broken.” Rothstein and the gifted producers who contributed to the project managed to deliver an album that checks off both vibes, with his pensive, lovelorn poetics crooned over a lush soundscape built upon futuristic synths and erudite guitar play. Rothstein describes the nine-track project as “two fraught love stories, one with a woman and one with a city, told together.”
The cathartic project took form with a simple musing after listening to production from a slew of producers, including Grammy-nominated Nova, and frequent collaborators like producers DOC, rolexdaytona, MAERO and Fallen Atom – who played guitar on most of the project. Rothstein recalls telling himself that, “this is top shelf [production] and I could hit it with a new flavor, something nobody’s heard before.”
High Water, executive-produced by Rothstein, ryanjacob and Rafael Moure, hits that high mark by infusing a canvas culled from elements of pop, R&B and rap with elegiac songwriting such as on “Get Your Sh*t Together,” a standout track that topped Spotify charts and helped change Rothstein’s life, as he admitted over e-mail.
The 26-year-old was more of a traditionalist-friendly, bar-heavy rapper while coming up in Cambridge but he admits always being a “closet singer.” The album shows his ability to pivot his artistic approach, open up that closet door to the world and mirror influences such as Andre 3000, Phonte, and Scarface in their transparency and forthright lyricism. On tracks like “Yamakazi” and “A Million” he delivers the brashness and chest-hitting witticisms that many of his genre-bending peers excel at, but his lyrical leanings manage to take the sound into a realm that few artists can match.
High Water, which Rothstein labeled as “peaceful and violent as drowning,” is a project both dazzling and dejected; hypnotic and heavy-hearted. You can stream it via Spotify below.