Argyle | photo via

The first time we wrote about Philly wordsmith Argyle in late 2017, we noted that “this dose of hip-hop philosophizing is especially cosmic.” We obviously did not know how much further out the MC would be traveling a little further down the road. Though Argyle’s Stage 4 project caught our ear with jazz-tinged songs engaging videos, the new four-song EP im up!! ventures into more expansive and expressionistic atmospheres. Over five songs, minimal beats work like light brushstrokes over a colorfield canvas, setting a backdrop to Argyle’s poetic proclamations in the forefront.

On the opening “ROSES,” he flexes on his skill while also taking stock of his place in the context of a century of music and the lineage he’s part of: “My shit be shinin’ like the whole soul is lightin’ up some old roaches / between the concrete it’s cold roses / travel the plane, communicate with old souls / at the hip-hop, the jazz and the soul shows.”

“IN BLOOM” is even more hushed, built around hums, fingersnaps, and light music box piano, while Argyle speaks to the importance of addressing uncomfortable realities: “Your favorite politician is a coward and a felon / but I doubt that you would tell him, so fuck it, Imma yell it.”

“STAY” grows more intense, immersing listeners in a world of bubbling synthesizer, meditative piano and pitch-shifted vocals, and its spacey, chemical haze leads us to the powerful closer “ELEVATED,” where Argyle expresses exhaustion with systemic oppression, marginalization, police violence, and cynicism over society’s actual willingness to cure these ills. This is underscored by a sampled opening monologue where an unidentified speaker talks of a country that takes black citizens for granted on an economic level, not to mention a cultural and spiritual level: “Imagine all the value we bring here, if we took it over there, America wouldn’t exist anymore.” Argyle’s rhymes succinctly sum up the dilemma and call for vigilance: “You praying for peace, they playing for keeps.”

Listen to im up!! below.