Saint Ripley sets out to sea on The Ferryman. Blending elements of psychedelic rock, boom-bap hip-hop, R&B, and even punk into his 4th project, the EP is a divergence from his 2020 pop-rap EP, Girls, and industrial-based 2021 LP, GOD COMPLEX – which received an AOTY nomination in the Chicago Reader. On The Ferryman, Ripley yet again proves his ability to weave between different styles of hip-hop while standing out from the crowd by spreading a simply implied message: that we all have the innate ability to find joy and solace in the here and now.
Inspired by, and containing passages from, Herman Hesse’s 1920s novel, Siddhartha, Ripley’s newest installation tells the story of a man who finds a deeper understanding of life after decades of searching. On its opening track, “River Way Down”, Ripley embarks on his seaward journey, embracing the artist he has become.
In discussing his inspiration for the EP, Ripley states: “I set out to be a true artist nearly a decade back. At the time that I set that intention, I was filled with self-loathing and drinking every day. I was emotionally broken, obsessively suicidal, coping with trauma, and daunted by the prospect of working a shit job for the rest of my life. My only way out was music.”
Despite the confidence behind his identity, Ripley finds himself yet again facing obstacles of substance abuse, loneliness, suicide, and self-doubt as the album progresses. The Pilotkid (Russ, Joey Bada$$) produced track, “Drowning”, is most certainly a standout track, embodying the feeling of drowning in his own vices. Continuing with the water motif, Ripley raps, “…I might dip my toe in a little bit / And numb the fact that I’m all alone again within / This sea full of strangers, for now the bottle answers”.
Recognizing that these lulls are not to be resented, but rather, recognized and faced as a part of life, Ripley breaks the cycle to uncover peace within the madness and becomes one with the ebb and flow on the Nate Fox (Chance the Rapper, J. Cole) produced track, “The River”.
The six-track project comes full circle by its close when Ripley faces tumultuous waters head-on. Finally at peace, even as he seemingly looks death in the eye, on the smooth R&B single, “I Packed My Bags to Move Out West”, Ripley is ready for whatever comes his way. He has found the ferryman within.
RIYL/FFO: Kevin Abstract, Mac Miller, Kid Cudi, Russ