VII$N make music that transports you to another plane, a left-of-center breed of hip-hop deeply inspired by their cosmic fascinations. On their debut project Retro Grade, the College Park, Georgia-based duo dream up a spacey yet soulful sound built on wavy melodies and woozy beats, high reverb frequencies and psychedelic effects. And on every track, rappers Scope 20 (age 23) and Lil Polaroid (age 24) reveal the unearthly but undeniable chemistry at the heart of their collaboration.

Longtime best friends, Scope and Polaroid began making music together soon after meeting in ninth grade. “We started building studios in our crib, and we’ve done that in every place we’ve moved into since then,” says Scope. With their name referring to the fact that both artists have 20/20 eyesight, the duo quickly discovered a nearly telepathic connection. “We fight sometimes but we’re always in the same headspace—he’s probably thinking the same I’m thinking at the exact same moment,” says Scope. “When we’re working on something Polaroid might hear a melody and I might hear something different, and we’ll just find a way to put it together and make it work.”

Thanks to that synergy, VII$N have achieved an unstoppable creativity over the years. “We already made about 100 songs since we finished Retro Grade,” Scope says. “We can make a whole mixtape in one night if we want.” Mainly recorded at Means Street Studios in Atlanta, Retro Grade features production from ChaseTheMoney and Chubby El Hefe and guest spots from artists like Alabama rapper OMB Peezy and Coney Island’s Olah Only. Along with the ethereal yet gritty lead single “Retro High,” the project delivers everything from the hazy delirium of “Creaturez” (a reflection on an alien encounter) to the piano-laced melancholy of “Musical Chairs” (a track written after the death of Polaroid’s mother in early 2019). “If you listen from the beginning to the end, you can hear the whole journey we went through when we were making the tape,” Scope points out.

With the release of Retro Grade, VII$N hope to leave listeners with a new sense of possibility, and a stronger understanding of the astrological phenomenon that gave the project its title. “We want people to learn what the whole purpose of Mercury retrograde is, and how they can make the best out of it whenever they’re going through it,” says Scope. “When it happens, the planets are pulling back and reversing all that energy, and you go through things you wouldn’t usually go through. You can learn a lot of important lessons during that time, and you might end up doing something great that changes your whole outcome.”

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