Fittingly, the origin of Felix-Culpa came from Author George Bataile, where the term depicts 'a fortunate fall'.
A landmark moment in his creative journey and a solidified introductory of his artistry, Den of Lions is the debut album from Melbourne rapper Felix-Culpa and is an emotional reflection on the beatmaker’s own journey, particularly on the struggles, frustrations, heartbreak and anxieties life has thrown at him.
“Den of Lions was an idea I had for a long time, I wanted to really encapsulate the dark times I have faced throughout my life and current situations I was going through,” Felix explains.
“It mainly started off in my bedroom and contacting a couple of producers who I thought had a unique sound to really evoke the feelings I wanted to express on each track. It took a lot of back-and-forth emails but eventually, I found the right team to manifest the vision I had.”
With an intoxicating flow, infectious instrumentals and biting lyricism, all seven tracks on the album are a testament to Felix’s ability to wield poignant themes within his flow. Using music as a therapeutic outlet to expose his vulnerabilities and transmute this into an art form, each song provides an emotive and incredibly candid look at the recording artists past, bolstered by his cinematic and candid style of songwriting.
“Music has always been a way to express my emotions, whether it was joyous or bleak. To some degree, it was therapeutic and enlightening to spill my guts into a song. It’s not an easy thing to do especially when you showcase it to people you don’t know. It strengthened my internal understanding and gave me a sense of serenity as a result.
“Every line and subject all came from true events and real-life experiences. I thought breaking down my walls and being as vulnerable as possible would connect to listeners more than fabricating a fictional facade.”
A no holds barred reflection of the moments that have moulded him into the artist he is today, the album is as honest as it is captivating.
Featuring an ebb and flow of aggressive tempos and light, uplifting melodies, the project has immediately established Felix’s penchant for crafting immersive hip hop, inspired by the smorgasbord of influences. Effortlessly partnering a melting pot of jazz, smooth RnB and both old school and alternative Hip-Hop beats with his effortless and everchanging flow and lyricism, the rapper’s eclectic sounds are a nod to the likes of John Coltrane, Archie Shepp, Sun Ra, Erykah Badu, Bilal, D Angelo, Shabazz Palaces, Digable Planets, Isaiah Rashad, Kojey Radical, and Gil Scott-Heron, to name a few.
It’s the old-school jazz, experimental soundscapes, lashes of electronica and even Spanish guitar used throughout the album, in particular, that takes the themes and the song’s message to another level, notably on tracks like ‘Tomb’, ‘Perception’ and title track ‘Den of Lions’.
“’Tomb’ was addressing all the issues and anger I had at that stage in my life,” Felix explains.
“Specifically, it had to do with integrating back into society when I served time and how much people ostracized me because of my past mistakes. It delved into trust issues, learning bad Ideals from my father and relapsing.
“The crux of it all is murky and raw content which is provocative even for me to write but I thought doing it over a fast upbeat instrumental would lighten the load of adversity and make it an easier and catchy listen to.”
Mixed and mastered by Rambito from Burn city MV and produced by the likes of Donavelo, Jez King and Cheap Limousine, Den of Lions comes bolstered with talent, each bringing out the best in Felix’s sound and elevating him to a masterclass of his own.
“‘Yesterday’ was a track that resonated with me heavily. Jez King who produced the track did a great job with interpreting the sound I was describing to him. ‘Yesterday’ was a spontaneous idea I was riffing with, and I felt like it was an effortless track to make,” Felix explains.
“Another track that was astounding to me was ‘Bulletproof’. Donavelo who produced the track did an amazing job especially with his guitar riffs and aesthetically soulful chords. I felt like I did that instrumental justice and really put myself into the track, so everything amalgamed mellifluously.”
Emotionally driven and vulnerable at its heart, Den of Lions is packed with soul-baring cuts lined with pent-up emotions and bouncing melodies that feel simultaneously energetic and melancholic, reinforced by a flow executed with incredible flair.
A solid debut, Den of Lions indicates Felix-Culpa may have longevity in the bag when it comes to producing tracks that have both substance and allure to both alternative and old-school hip-hop fans alike. Certainly one to watch in 2021.
Den of Lions is out now. Give it a listen below.