Today, we’re honored to share Cardinality, the debut LP from the newly formed duo of RVA artist Ty Sorrell and singer AG Himself.
Spirituality, soul, and connection are at the forefront of Cardinality’s first outing, which will likely stand as little surprise to those familiar with the past work of Ty Sorrell, whether it be last year’s At God’s House or other Tribe Ninety Five-affiliated projects. A strong rapper, Sorrell’s biggest asset is still their signature production, which often sees them tweak a blend of soul, gospel, trap, and trip hop that seeks to merge the earthly and ethereal planes. Partnering with fellow Tribe Ninety Five member AG Himself leads Sorrell to shift even further into the realms of trip hop on Cardinality‘s sound in effort to support and accentuate AG’s classic, sultry vocals on what amounts to an impressive introduction.
Lead single “At the Dinner Table” retains an element of the album’s overall dreaminess, but aside from perhaps the aggressive pitch climbing southern rap of “Back N’ Forth” is the most urgent of the tracks found on Cardinality. Anxious may be the best way to describe it: the clattering beat moves forward at a stutter step, supplementing the song’s primary mantra “All these people love me / I don’t feel it always / How am I alone / When I’ve been with you all day”, speaking to those who feel the most alone when surrounded with the people they ‘should’ be able to form meaningful connections with. The harmonies of Sorrell and Himself are just ever so slightly out of step with each other here, symbolic of the emotional solitude experienced in these disconnected relationships. As the pitch shifts down leading into the fade, it’s as if the duo are drowning in a pool of downers, trying to reaching each out to each other but just grazing fingertips as they sink lower: a beautiful tragedy.
While Sorrell seems to be plotting the course on Cardinality, it’s very much informed by the abilities of AG Himself, with the vast majority of the beats seemingly designed to fit his vocal stylings like a glove while Sorrell reasonably understands they can ride them well enough (a true producer’s mindset).
The aforementioned “Back N’ Forth” is the sole instance in which Sorrell seems to prioritize their ability to ride the beat. The first half of the track allows them to flex their rapping ability in a more direct fashion than much of Cardinality, but while AG Himself does get the second half to himself, there seems to be just a bit of a struggle to truly establish himself within its tense, escalating rhythm. Conversely, the following track “Party of One” may be the most perfect meeting point for both of them to shine alongside “At the Dinner Table”, with a looseness that allows Sorrell to play around with the dynamics of their flow while still being reigned in enough so that Himself can dig his heels in and deliver a stunning vocal. “Eden” closes the album on a note on gatekeeping within the realms of spirituality, rejecting the notion that the path to paradise is dictated by the warped interpretations of the weak, fearful, and intolerant.
If the primary goal was to make Himself’s performances pop, consider Cardinality a rousing success: the relaxed, lush soundscapes of Sorrell allow Himself to milk every word for what its worth in a heavenly combo that persists for the vast majority of the record. There’s an uplifting glow that radiates from Cardinality, through its tones and messages, and it’s one we’re more than happy to bask in.
You can stream Cardinality below:
Favorite tracks: “At the Dinner Table”, “Patterns”, “Party of One”
Rating: Strongly Recommended
‘Cardinality’ is out now on digital, lathe cut vinyl, and cassette and is available to purchase here via Grimalkin Records. Digital proceeds go to the artists, cassette proceeds go to the label, and lathe proceeds go to the Richmond Reproductive Freedom Project (RRFP). The Richmond Reproductive Freedom Project (RRFP) seeks to further Reproductive Justice by providing practical and financial support for abortion services in Virginia and surrounding communities. RRFP strives to be a resource to the community by engaging in grassroots advocacy for the full spectrum of reproductive rights. Be sure to follow Cardinality on Twitter and Instagram to keep up-to-date with their work.