“The Boy Who Fell From Earth…” may be Stefan Ponce’s debut album, but you’ve already heard the virtuosic Chicago producer before. Locking in collaborations with the likes of Chance the Rapper, Vic Mensa and earning a Grammy-nomination for his work with Childish Gambino, Ponce’s accolades up to this point set high expectations leading up to this project. With that said, he rises to the occasion and delivers something that’s uniquely his, letting his commitment and meticulousness radiate all throughout the record.
Ponce recruits a roster of collaborators from his inner circle, with fellow Chicagoans Ravyn Lenae, theMIND, Mick Jenkins and more lending a hand. It’d be easy for tracks to get overcrowded with so many names involved, but Ponce plays the role of ringleader with finesse, pulling the best out of each artist and allowing them to complement one another. The same undying bounce and vibrancy that the Chicago producer is known for can be felt on every track, resonating through uplifting, funk-infused arrangements. With so much live instrumentation, there’s no doubt that this album was a massive undertaking, but it stays contained by Ponce’s knack for adding just the right element at the right time. He knows how to take a track to the next level, and breakout moments like these come through on highlights like “New Life Crisis / All Alone”, where he switches the beat up just as the first half reaches its peak.
Stream the full project below and also check out Stefan Ponce’s upcoming set at Chicago’s East Room this Friday.