BXTH (Scky Rei, INFNTLP) - Sorta Kinda

Omaha, NE rap duo BXTH (formerly spelled “BOTH”) released their long-awaited album Sorta Kinda on Thursday, Feb. 27th. The album, recorded at the Grammy-nominated Make Believe Studios, is rambunctious and gritty, heartbreaking and hopeful, and a necessary staple in 2020’s alternative hip-hop landscape.

After previewing songs in J. Cole’s 2019 documentary Out of Omaha, BXTH finally sees the release of this jazzy, boom-bap trap album, the first since 2015’s BOTHSUCKS.

The superduo of Scky Rei and INFNTLP first teamed up in 2012 for Scky Rei’s Pronounced Sky​+​Ree EP, when Scky commissioned INFNTLP (Nate Asad) to produce all the songs for his then-solo project. Since then, the duo has legitimized its collaboration through the BOTH LP (2014) and BOTHSUCKS EP (2015), gaining features from Chicago’s Psalm One and KAMI along the way.

After dancing with the devil on BOTHSUCKS, and winning acclaim from Omaha’s critics (“Best Hip-Hop/Rap” and “Artist of the Year”), the duo began a transformation. The real-life loss of a family member and struggles with mental health were paralleled with finding love and mastering their art, for both Scky and Nate over the last four years — and it’s all captured in Sorta Kinda.

The album’s first single “Dear Little Brother” debuted on the Dreamville-produced documentary Out of Omaha, which examines the hardships and segregation of North Omaha. A plea to his younger brother to stay out of trouble, Scky all but forfeits his soul for his family’s survival. The track sees producer INFNTLP’s debut behind the mic, spitting the closing verse with abstraction and vigor equal to MF DOOM.

Jazzy collaborations cast a heavy nostalgia on Sorta Kinda, featuring live saxophone from Omaha’s Ayo (“Assemble” and “Descendants”) and occasional bouts on the grand piano from INFNTLP, who also plays keys for indie jazz ensemble Mesonjixx. Make Believe Studios (Terrance Martin, Rapsody) engineer Kethro lent his hand at co-producing “CRUSH!,” an R&B ballad featuring LA vocalist Jaira Noelani. Hip-hop heads will rejoice at the turntable chops from Dojorok (“What’s Up Kid”) and revival of skits throughout the album (inspired by the likes of Outkast, Del the Funky Homosapien, and 1970s R&B group Switch).

Beyond boom-bap and jazz, BXTH know how to throw a party. Tracks like “Best Internal Celebration (BIC),” “No Tags,” and crowd favorite “Off Centered” have become staples of BXTH’s live show years before their release, and remain essential for any rap party playlist, somewhere between Mick Jenkins and J Dilla. “No Tags” was originally produced at an Austin coffee shop during the duo’s 2016 trip to SXSW, but INFNTLP later scrapped the original sample and reworked an original production for the 73-second banger.

When the beats decay and the dust settles, Sorta Kinda has pain and loss. By all means, the album should not exist. A busted hard drive containing all the studio sessions rendered the project almost non-existent. The duo’s individual careers and personal lives have matured into standalone entities. Maybe that’s what makes BXTH special; a duo that is now rarely seen but always enjoyed when they show up. Although they’ve hinted that this might be the group's last project, at least we can be assured they’ve left us on a high note with something sorta kinda dense to chew on.

Sorta Kinda Credits

Music & Lyrics by Skylar Reed and Nate Asad
Co-Production from Keith Rodger ("CRUSH!")
Composition from Pierre Arvay ("Dear Little Brother")
Mixed and Mastered by Rick Carson and Connor Murray
at Make Believe Studios in Omaha, NE
Executive Produced by Skylar Reed and John Schmidt