From the vantage point of 2021, it’s kind of insane that a guy like Salvador Dalí could receive the amount of pop-cultural recognition he did. Beyond the fact that the only contemporary artist most people could name today is Banksy, an explicitly non-artist artist, dude was the exact type of weird that movie studios would refuse to take risks on, for example—though, on the flip side, he’s the exact type of weird TV hosts would prey on during the medium’s first golden age with an onslaught of othering interview questions.
“He became my muse, and someone whom I began to study,” rapper UFO Fev explained upon the reveal of his new collaboration with producer Vanderslice, Enigma of Dalí, which drops today via Coalmine Records, and which was inspired by the legendary Spanish artist’s status at the unlikely crossroads of global fame and surreal landscape paintings. “In my free time, I’d watch his interviews and would begin to pen lyrics. Subconsciously, I was writing from the point of view of someone misunderstood, very much like Dalì was.”
Enigma is easy to get lost in in the same way The Persistence of Memory is—the familiar landscape of hip-hop beats fueled by deep-cut, throwback samples contrasts with often-jarring lyrical directions and vocal feats from Fev and a small cast of co-conspiring emcees. For a little more detail on how each of these 10 tracks came together, read on for Fev and Vanderslice’s track-by-track breakdown as you stream the record in full.
UFO Fev: The intro was something that came to me while studying Dalí. I spent time watching his interviews and this one felt like it best describes the vibe I felt while studying. Vanderslice and Green Steez laced it with the proper backdrop.
Vanderslice: The music to the intro was a Bulgarian record I had sitting around. Fev sent me the Dalí interview, and it just fit the aesthetic of the record. It’s old drama time music. It also bled perfectly into “Crack Shifts.”
2. “Crack Shifts” feat. Flee Lord
UFO Fev: I met Flee in 2017 and he always showed respect, so when I heard the track I knew it would be dope to have him on it. I asked and he delivered.
Vanderslice: That sample is a rare French library record, and the song title translated is literally “Drama Songs.” It’s a perfect backdrop for a song about moving drugs. Fev opens the song, “It gets dark in my neighborhood,” and this is the best way we could paint that picture. Green Steez brought it all together when he laid the bass and extra synths that give it that super gutter sound.
3. “Moody Bass”
UFO Fev: This was the first song I recorded for Vanderslice and he loved it. I was excited to send it to ’em, hoping he’d send more. I think it was earlier than 2018, but I trust Vanderslice’s memory. I’ma have to check the drive for original date [laughs].
Vanderslice: This was the first song Fev and I ever did in 2018, and it set the tone moving forward. It’s a gritty bass groove, and Fev floated on it. I knew when I heard it we had to do a whole record.
4. “Pack Flip” (feat. Red Infinite)
UFO Fev: This was inspired by an old Roc-A-Fella record—JAY-Z asked for a new beat mid-record, and I always loved that. I got my opportunity to do the same with Vanderslice and Red, had to do it. Came out crazy fire, might be my favorite.
Vanderslice: This is one of my favorites. I love the chemistry Red and Fev have. The beat switches in the middle—it goes from light to dark—and it’s just authentic street shit. I also sampled one of my favorite movies of all time for the second beat, straight off the movie. Anyone who knows me should be able to catch it, given my affinity for a certain era.
5. “Home Team”
Vanderslice: This is totally a Vanderslice flex. It’s a very rare soul 45 (that last sold for $450 on Discogs), and I had to get it on this record. It’s such a beautiful loop. Fev did his thing on it, but it didn’t matter…this one was for me 100 percent.
6. “Artfully Done Street Shit” (feat. Red Infinite)
UFO Fev: This record is Red and I doing our thing. We’ve been friends for over 15 years, so when we record together it’s not much of a big deal. We already know what it should sound like. This is one of those records where we accent each other well.
Vanderslice: This is my favorite song on the album. This is Red and Fev at their finest, doing what they do best. The sample was provided by my dear friend Gene Brown, and it just has that gritty street feel that I love so much. It’s two bars for the whole beat…minimal but super effective. This is another beat Green Steez laced with the extra toppings to give it all the feel.
7. “Scroll Music”
UFO Fev: Love this one—this is also one of the earlier records we cut. I was in the zone when I wrote this, just trying to say the illest rhymes I can. Lots of jewels in there.
Vanderslice: This beat is the oddball. It’s a rare Thai 45, and I love Thai records. We used one on Diabolic’s Collusion, and this was just a continuation for me. I wanted to get at least one on Enigma of Dalí. It’s also unlike everything else on the record, but the street aesthetic remains. It just displays versatility within the same scope of the album. Very fresh.
8. “Jazz Criminals” (feat. SmooVth)
UFO Fev: Peace to SmooVth! Record is hard! Vanderslice connected us and I enjoyed working alongside the good brother.
Vanderslice: This was the last song we did to wrap up the album. I switched the drums later after the song was done. It’s a contempo jazz record from 1981 that I paid six dollars for, in contrast to a $450 45. We got in our bag with this shit, though. Green Steez killed his parts on the beat. He gave it so much depth and feel. I wanted to make sure we got SmooVth on something sinister, but also very smooth to accommodate his voice. I had confidence in Fev being able to rap on anything, and SmooVth came through in style for us.
9. “Scarlet Letters”
UFO Fev: Best record on the project, in my opinion. It’s hard, it’s lyricism, and it really sounds good in the truck!
Vanderslice: I got this sample from the homie Beatnick Dee and I made the beat at, like, 5 a.m. I just remember sitting and listening to it for about three hours straight before adding the drums. I added one bass stab and the drum break. I made the beat in three minutes flat, and it was totally sublime. I don’t think anyone could have made a better beat from that sample.
10. “All That Glitters” (feat. Sure Shot)
UFO Fev: Women love my music as well. They like the joints where I rap, but I always have to do something for the ladies. Sure Shot is my guy—represents Long Island. We’ve been friends outside of music as well, so I always got a spot for him when it’s time. His style was perfect for this, and he delivered!
Vanderslice: This is the flipside of the coin. The beat is super wavy with an 808 kit. Fev is on his pretty fly shit and Sure Shot is new blood. We just wanted to show a certain dynamic, but this still fits within the theme and scope of the album. It’s just a flossy flex for the people.