Roy Woods, the youngest member of OVO Sound, continues to make a name for himself under Drake’s record label roster.
“Roy outta here like NASA” – Drake,“HYPE”
Woods released a surprise 7-song EP, entitled Nocturnal, in the dead of night Thursday. This is Woods’ second project of the year, following “Walking at Dawn,” which released in early July. Though the release was highly anticipated, it ducked under the radar of Drake’s record-breaking summer sixteen.
Contrary to popular belief, it’s not easy being associated with a pop culture icon like Drake. Many hip-hop fans shrug OVO releases off as Drake-ish, but Woods is bringing something new to the Toronto family.
The success of his first radio single, “Gwan Big Up Yourself,” lead him to become an opening act for Drake’s “Summer Sixteen” tour. Soon after, Woods was granted his first headlining schedule on the “Unlocked” tour which took place in the fall.
What’s unique about Woods is the fact that he’s constructed a fan base under the OVO imprint without a dominant feature from Drake. Drake’s helping hand only touched “Drama”, which appeared on Woods’ debut EP Exis.
He continues to raise excitement surrounding his growing popularity on Nocturnal.
The moody collection of songs sticks to OVO fashion by portraying soundscapes of emotion. Woods feels comfortable hiding in the shadows of his past while he takes the time to absorb the nature of his current realities.
On instinct, Woods refuses to let go of the learned behaviors that have never abandoned him. Though he laments pleasures of adolescence, he understands the loss leads him to the right direction.
“No boy, no man can handle my spot
Think you know right, but I’m changin’ a lot
Can’t be no man, who you knew from the block
Wait until you got it, then your loss
With my instinct,
Just following my instinct”
Though the instrumentals are cascaded with thick synths and a drone bass, there’s still plenty of space in the mix for Woods to clearly double down on every realization. At times, he uses his voice as an instrument.
Don’t cringe, but if you close your eyes, Woods actually has vocal abilities similar to Michael Jackson. Yes, Michael Jackson.
His mid-range cries carry the ghost of the world’s greatest pop star. When he’s aggressive he uses a grunt technique to articulate himself into staccato phrases. The same technique popularized by Jackson’s “Smooth Criminal.” When he’s mellow, his vocal chords let off shivering whispers similar to Jackson’s “Liberian Girl.”
Woods is able to visualize the blurred lines in the current R&B era which merges rapping with singing. He’s able to perform his vocal exercises without drowning in autotune. On Nocturnal he hides in the shadows ahead of the pack.
The EP hosts Woods’ first guest appearances, with label mates Majid Jordan on “Chilli Peppers,” and MadeintTYO on “Love You.” The EP is officially available on iTunes and Spotify.