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California-based production duo Friendzone played a major role in pioneering the hazy, ethereal sound known as cloud rap during the early 2010s. Crafting elegiac yet ecstatic tracks filled with booming drum machines and glitchy samples from disparate sources such as video game soundtracks, J-pop, and new age music, the duo developed an aesthetic which resonated throughout underground music at the time, and undeniably had an impact on rap and R&B for the remainder of the decade. Friendzone's output included numerous mixtapes, a sole full-length (2013's DX), and productions for Main Attrakionz, A$AP Rocky, Yung Lean, and others. James Laurence and Dylan Reznick met in 2005 and played in a noise-rock band called Destroy Tokyo before moving to electronic music and hip-hop production. The two separately released solo material (Reznick went by the name Birthplace, while Laurence used the moniker LVC), and they started releasing collaborative work as Friendzone in 2010, beginning with several mixtapes and the early-2011 single "A.L.L."/"JD." Friendzone first began receiving considerable attention for their productions for rap duo Main Attrakionz, particularly the tracks "Chuch" and "Perfect Skies" from the 2011 mixtape 808s & Dark Grapes II. Friendzone continued producing for Main Attrakionz as well as Shady Blaze, Deniro Farrar, and others, compiling instrumental versions on the 2012 release Collection I. The duo released three volumes of their Kuchibiru Network mixtapes, showcasing their own productions as well as work by friends such as Skywlkr (of Danny Brown's Bruiser Brigade) and Ryan Hemsworth. Friendzone collaborated with Mykki Blanco on the 2013 Adult Swim-issued single "Who Wanna Rumble," and produced A$AP Rocky's "Fashion Killa" and Yung Lean's "Solarflare" the same year. Also appearing in 2013 was DX, Friendzone's only full-length, which was named one of the best albums of the year by websites such as FACT and Coke Machine Glow. The duo only released one single ("Appropriate X"/"Blast Furnace") and a remix for States of Emotion ("The Way That I'm Wired") in 2014, but they worked diligently on material, and an hour-long Boiler Room session consisting of unreleased music appeared in 2015, as well as the EP While U Wait. Friendzone also produced the entirety of the 2015 Main Attrakionz full-length 808s & Dark Grapes III. Sadly, Laurence passed away in January of 2017. A final Friendzone track, "Sweet Dream," was released the following month, and Reznick continued producing solo work under the name Chlorine Mist.
© Paul Simpson /TiVo
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