What is Vibes about? It’s either the most or least important question to ask, depending on how the listener digests the eclectic second LP from Brooklyn-based, Trinidad-born Theophilus London. On a macro level, the project rings of liberation. When you really get into what all that means, Vibes is about lovers, dinners at MOMA, clubbing with the art world bourgeois and keeping your herringbone on throughout.
Theophilus London has to be doing something right to have Kanye West as his executive producer, soul legend Leon Ware as creative co-producer, and the Force M.D.'s, Devonte Hynes, and Jesse Boykins III as guest collaborators. Additionally, Karl Lagerfeld serves as art director and photographer for Vibes!, London's second proper album. Timez Are Weird These Days, the artist's debut housed in a Ware-emulating cover, lacked focus and was mostly surface with little depth.
Theophilus London wants to make one thing clear: His new album Vibes is executive produced by Kanye West. He's splashed the information all over promotional material and told everyone. Just how involved West was in the process of recording the album is anyone's guess — same goes for "art director" Karl Lagerfeld — but if we're to believe London, they were instrumental in its execution.
Brooklyn-based polymath Theophilus London is either unaware of or hostile toward the struggles that R&B has been having in the commercial marketplace, and it’s for the better; his second album is confident and hooky, spanning funk and reggae and psych. The “Vibes” within are hardly chill — “What’s there when we all die?” he asks on the album’s opening track, “Water Me” — but London’s mad-scientist approach, exhibited by his melding of genres and minor galaxy of guest stars, results in more than enough pleasure to go around. “Neu Law” speeds along like a joyride in KITT; Kanye West (credited as the album’s executive producer) parachutes into “Can’t Stop” in Yeezus mode; soul legend Leon Ware adds flair to the space-funk jam “Need Somebody.
While some still may view Theophilus London as a relative newcomer in today’s game, his impressive track record speaks for itself. Records such as 2009’s “Humdrum Town” and 2012’s “Big Spender” served as tremendous boosts to the career of an artist who incorporates elements from hip-hop, soul, R&B, and electro to form an entirely new genre he describes as “post-punk. ” There are even a few doses of reggae and funk on the Brooklyn-by-way-of-Trinidad native’s eclectic sophomore album, Vibes, a 12-song body of work executively produced by Kanye West.