A little bit emo rap, a little pop punk, and a little hyperpop, it’s hard to make a song that better encapsulates the current musical moment than LOAT!’s “cheyenne.” Combining vivid snapshots of late-night excess with a self-aware edge, the track marks the arrival of a talent capable of building consensus across genres.
LOAT! stands for “Lover of All Things,” and hearing what influenced the ascendant 17 year old’s music makes it abundantly clear why such a name is appropriate. Based in Jacksonville, FL, LOAT! cites musicians like Lil Tracy, Ski Mask the Slump God, and Pierce the Veil, as well as horror movies from Nightmare on Elm Street to Midsommar as inspiration.
“My whole life I’ve always wanted to see both sides of every story and wanted to know the ladder to everything,” he says.
His stage name also helped inspire the title of his upcoming debut EP Devil’s Advocate. The project is a classic doomed lover story, enlivened by LOAT!’s knack for arena-sized hooks and his commitment to portraying both perspectives.
“I just put so much into it and I never even could have thought that I would put it out,” LOAT! says of Devil’s Advocate. “Views don’t matter to me. Reviews don’t really matter. I make my music for the people that want to hear it.”
Songs like lead single “cheyenne” and “haunted house” marry bubbly pop melodies with grim tales of love, loss, and longing. LOAT! says this Trojan horse style of songwriting is particularly intriguing, and he also injects them with a kind of caustic fourth-wall breaking wit.
“I like taking lighthearted songs and putting very dark meanings into them,” he explains.
His baritone voice is commanding, particularly when juxtaposed against bright guitar chords and squirming synths. At times, his woozy cadences recall the early work of Juice WRLD, though with even more low-end heft. When he reaches into his reedy upper register, his voice, often dusted in distortion, has a sweetness that you wouldn’t associate with chronicles of drugs, devotion and demons (both personal and literal). Since he began taking music seriously in 2018, he’s recorded almost exclusively DIY style in his home, but that hasn’t stopped him from writing tracks that you can picture thousands belting along to at a festival.
The first step in his process is concocting a narrative worth exploring, which he later builds out into specific songs. He says he’s got more to explore in the same universe as Devil’s Advocate, but is also eager to keep branching out. Songs like “voices” and “FUEGO” prove his hip-hop bona fides, and why he’s considered a key fixture in the sober core and aesthetic rap scenes.