‘Prequel‘ feels effortless, drifting between subterranean hip hop, airy jazz, and an R&B ballad. Though Vidal’s music is hard to pin down, his latest single is a smorgasbord of styles and sounds. Instead of a traditionally-structured song ‘Prequel’ seems like a deliberate artistic choice, not a deficiency. The song compellingly mutates, full of smooth pivots; and if the moving parts can be jarring to follow, they’re never boring. The song sees Vidal rap and sing about innate hopes and dreams by providing a quick, satisfying glimmer of a motivated version of himself with vulnerability. On ‘Prequel’ he awakens us to new possibilities by allowing us to transcend our ordinary experiences and limitations, and reach for the skies.
The artist brings presence and personality to his single, uniting distinct musical elements as if they belonged together all along. The saxophone itself does slice through and spring across the melody, and is sometimes played to hypnotic effect. All the other added instrumental layering and effects — wriggling synthesisers, a buzzing bass-line, boom-bap drums, ticking hi-hats are nuanced, not once getting in the way of an artist who can put forth an affecting message with his voice. All of these different elements find balance thanks to Vidal, a rebuke to anyone who thinks he can’t work in this many different styles. Even though ‘Prequel’ doesn’t have a compelling hook that digs straight into your brain, you’ll find it just as appreciable with its directness to Vidal’s lyrics and a clear lilt to his voice, especially when it comes to the verses.
Nonetheless, ‘Prequel’ is hip-hop blues weaving real-life situations, and Vidal otherwise, tends to sing from the perspective of an optimist. The insightful lyricism mixed with a smooth instrumental makes for a heartfelt reflection on struggles that affect every human being. The song conjures the image of an outsider coming into their own and learning to love oneself. It immediately becomes a relatable sentiment, with Vidal’s vocals characterised by laid-back tones and an old-school rap husk, done with an effortless coolness. Playing with repetition and different stylistic choices, Vidal creates an anthem of self-worth that cheers you up any time you’re faced with fear, loss or lack of confidence. And it’s done with tenacity and an empathetic tone.