Ramapo Music Club hosted an album release party for student rapper Empty Matrix’s new album “Centipede” at the New Alumni Lounges. Throughout the party, student rap acts B and DeathIRL performed sets, as well as the south Brooklyn rapper and producer Azia.
Empty Matrix said, “I’ve been working on this album for so long, I was going to have some kind of party with my friends anyway, but I was like why not just open it up to the public.”
In addition to performing, Empty Matrix also emceed the night’s events, inviting performers on stage and raffling off a variety of prizes, including restaurant gift cards and dorm essentials like boxes of cereal, ramen noodles and Tide pods. A few students won CD copies of “Centipede” with detailed original artwork by Empty Matrix and t-shirts that were designed by her sister.
B, known as sophomore Kyle Bandilla, opened the show with incredibly swift bars and intricate verses to an enthusiastic crowd. He explained, “When I write my verses, I really just try see what I want to talk about in that moment, and I put that down and build on that.”
Along with rap classics like Biggie and Tupac, B also credited Empty Matrix as a major influence in developing his authentic style. B said, “A lot of the mixtape that I want to put out that I’m producing on my own is very inspired by Max’s music because she was a huge inspiration to me to keep pushing for my own sound.”
Following B, Empty Matrix took the stage to perform and share some of her instrumental songs with the crowd. Many of her lyrics play with humor and irony in a conversationally personal tone, like the album’s opener “Pink Light” which features the following lyrics, “If you aren’t dead I won’t get a tattoo that has to do with you / Sorry dude but that’s just the truth it’s not personal it’s just a personal rule.”
Empty Matrix cited southern and eastern rappers as her most significant musical influences, but she is also inspired by larger concepts that involve nature and space, which are all on full display on “Centipede’s” dark mysterious album artwork.
Songs like “Catalyst” and “Rusty20” are washed in dreamy atmospheric instrumentals, driven by cycling ticks and whirling synths. “I recorded every sound on the album, I mix-mastered, engineered, entered it on copyright.gov, it’s all DIY,” she said.
Charles Pfrommer jumped on stage to perform a few songs with Empty Matrix. Pfrommer, known by his stage name DeathIRL, delivered extremely energetic industrial hip-hop songs, full of political and historical references.
He said, “Basically what makes me more unique than other experimental rappers is that I usually discuss things on a macro level, like the songs today were about the military industrial complex, bourgeois, [and] Marxist ideologies.”
Visiting from Brooklyn, Azia's performance at the release party marks her first official performance in New Jersey. The first song she performed, titled “Pegasus,” pays homage to one of her favorite television shows, “My Little Pony.”
Dressed from shoulder to toe in a vibrant “My Little Pony” themed overcoat, Azia explained her nostalgic affinity for the television show. She said, “It’s just a really cool show. It has really great music, and really great color, great concepts.” Azia is preparing to release an album of bouncy trap music titled “Soak Up the Sun” in the near future.
Ramapo Music Club members were impressed with the fun environment that the new lounge presented and the supportive audience that gathered for the event. “It was definitely a collaborative effort,” said Tina Wasielewski, vice president of the music club. “Max planned most of it, we just did all the bookkeeping work and funding.”
Empty Matrix’s new album “Centipede” can be purchased directly through Bandcamp. The music club’s next big event is the indie music show on April 22 and their next open mic night will be on Thursday, March 29.