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COLUMN: Rex Orange County is an artist that cannot be labeled



It’s sometimes difficult to nail an artist’s genre on the head. 

Most of the time it depends on who you are and what you think certain types of music are supposed to sound like. For artists like Rex Orange County, there’s just no way they can be fit into a certain mold.

Rex Orange County isn’t just hip-hop. He's not just jazz or indie, and it’s not as simple as saying he's a soulful R&B with a twist. Rex Orange County is something entirely of its own caliber.

Rex Orange County, whose real name is Alex O’Connor, released his self-produced debut album, “Bcos U Will Never B Free,” in 2016 and his sophomore album, “Apricot Princess,” in 2017. But these weren’t his only works.

Between his various self-produced albums and singles, Rex Orange County gained the attention of Tyler, The Creator.

In fact, on Tyler’s last album “Flower Boy,” which was released just three months after “Apricot Princess,” Rex Orange County was featured on the opening song, “Foreword” and another track, “Boredom.”

It’s impossible to say when Rex Orange County gained a following to propel him to festivals like Lollapalooza and sell out a majority of the shows on his own tour, but working with Tyler, The Creator couldn’t have done him any harm. 

Rex Orange County’s soft, sweet, jazzy voice blends with the various instruments you can hear in the background of his songs. While performing live, Rex Orange County can’t physically play all the instruments, but he does have a pretty long list of instruments and skills he can use behind the scenes.

Rex Orange County can frequently be seen playing the guitar and piano at his shows, but he began with the drums before going into singing.

As a teen, he studied music at the BRIT School in London for Performing Arts and Technology, and when he was working on his first album in school, he also picked up production skills, according to his Spotify page

Figuring out that Rex Orange County was only 19 was particularly stunning to me, because at age 19, it’s pretty typical to have some mess-ups, or some bumps in the road, especially in terms of art. However, I have yet to hear a bad song by Rex Orange County.

His mesmerizing voice is always backed by beautiful instruments, and this is apparent in his most popular Spotify track as of March 22, 2018, “Loving Is Easy."

“Loving Is Easy” was written by O’Connor and Dutch pop artist Benny Sings, according to Genius, and features the artist Sings. He’s in the cute claymation stop-motion style video for the song, too.

“Television / So Far So Good,” from “Apricot Princess” is another one of my favorites by Rex Orange County, and it sounds like a mash-up of two incredibly upbeat songs about a hope for love blended together perfectly.

“What about me and you together? / Something that could really last forever,” he sings on the track before a guitar, drum and piano come in.

Rex Orange County also has a certain early 2000s-Mac DeMarco vibe to his style. This is best depicted in the music video for the song “Sunflower.” 

“Sunflower” is a stunning track that starts off muffled and jazzy before exploding into an R&B, indie and jazz song rolled all into one. The trumpets in the back add an airy feel to the song, which Rex’s smooth and deep, layered vocals pump through.

Rex Orange County music works with any time of the day and any situation, but I think he sounds best on a travel or road trip playlist, so that’s what I made. You can listen to it here.

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