Austin artist Scuare has been making dope hip hop for about the last decade, whether it be as a solo artist, as a duo with no1mportant, or with fellow exociety artists like Rav, Kill Bill, or Airospace. Just last year, he released his best solo album to date, Phenomenal. Now he is back with a new album done in collaboration with producer sow, Slippery People.

For Phenomenal, Scaure produced the majority of the tracks himself, but one track, “Troubleshooting,” was produced by sow and featured trumpet from FLOOG. If you’re familiar with the song and/or the album, you know that this track was decidedly more chill than a lot of the rest of the album. It was very cool and smooth and gave you a chance to breath. Now these artists have a chance to expand upon the potential of that song and explore it over the course of a full album with Slippery People. When an emcee also produces, there might be an assumption that they will always produce themselves, but sometimes it can be helpful to have another producer to push you in a musical direction that you might not have gone in otherwise. In this case, Scuare is really being pushed in the inventive downtempo, sparse, R&B-tilted area with sow’s production. This does a few things, all of which are very interesting. One is that while Scuare has always had a melodic delivery to his flow, we get more sections on this album where Scuare is straight singing some hooks and other portions of songs. It’s understated, but he’s got a nice tone to his voice a good feel for melodies that will stick with you. Another is that the production naturally lends itself to a more introspective and personal tone, which Scuare is picking up on and going into over the course of several songs, whether it be with personal relationships, or the balance of egos and friendships across the world of independent hip hop, and more. There is room for some political discussion, though, with the inclusion of “Which side are you on?” and “The Grift,” which finds Scuare deftly rhyming about the failures of late-stage capitalism. It makes for a really complete listening experience, and a really distinct project resulting from the collaboration.

Following up Phenomenal was going to be a tall order for Scuare, but he found a way to do it by zagging and working with sow to create a different type of vibe to the project, pushing the music and lyrics in another direction, and creating a nice companion piece in the process. It’s smart, sophisticated, soulful, challenging, and accesible all at the same time.