There’s something undeniably peaceful about airplane mode. With your phone off, severed from global communications and away from the constant press of social media, you’re free to lose yourself in your own thoughts. On an airplane, you’re both everywhere and nowhere: you’re on the planet, but you’re extraterritorial. You’ve escaped the bounds of the ordinary, and you’re in transit, in-between stations and plucked out of time.
What if a rapper tried to represent that in-between state? Could an innovative emcee bring the netherworld to life in the same way a more conventional vocalist puts on for his block? For Dude Reppin Knowhere, that’s not just a theoretical question. He’s the poet of the transcendent — a sonic sculptor whose work breathes life into imaginary landscapes. “Airplane Mode,” his latest single, sounds like no place on earth, and that’s by design. Its molasses-slow, pitched-down vocals, shuddering beats, and soothing synthesizers are all deeply suggestive of an interior world. It’s a meditative track, but it’s propulsive, too; the Dude boasts that he can’t be found, but that doesn’t mean he’s not on the move. Geopositioning has been switched off, all coordinates are scrambled, and the artist is free to define himself as he likes.
His Spacegod EP was similarly unclassifiable. There, over five memorable tracks, The Dude Reppin Knowhere took us deep into the void and dazzled us with sheer creativity. In the heart of “know” place, detached from outside pressures, The Dude forged a deeply personal, singular style: one that incorporates elements of thunderous East Coast hip-hop, syrupy, sinister Dirty South rap, chilly transatlantic house music, and Eastern European phonk. “Airplane Mode” is the apex of The Dude’s trajectory and the culmination of his journey into innerspace — a song that shows loyalty to no particular genre but deep knowledge of all of them.
The clip for “Airplane Mode” takes the viewer to places where the everyday intersects with the cosmic. It’s a trip to the most dream-haunted, sun-drunk part of the United States: the shimmering Southwest. We’re shown the wide-open highways under the high sky, the sand dunes of the desert, and the deserted gas stations, and we’re taken to some of the true man-made wonders of the region: the neon-draped Blue Swallow Motel on Route 66 in New Mexico, the UFO-haunted streets of Lowell, Arizona, and the otherworldly sight of the International Car Forest of the Last Church, the bizarre, unforgettable “garden” of vehicles half-buried, face first, in the sands of Cadillac Ranch in Amarillo, Texas. Throughout, the Dude saturates these images in radiant color and superimposes one atop the other. We’re never anywhere for long — we’re traveling at the speed of thought, untethered and unmastered, becoming one with the universal. The majority of the video was captured by DRK himself, and edited by him and KYNGATHAMONSTAS, a close friend and fellow artist.