Bend-based rapper Amsterdam — born Gabriel van Eikeren and known for his work with The Cool Table and the Zonked Out squad — returned this month with “Crush,” his first solo album since 2013’s “Avarice.” Clocking in at nine tracks in just less than half an hour, it’s a compact, thoughtful set that serves as a strong and often revelatory reintroduction to Amsterdam’s quick wit and relaxed flow.
As opposed to the tracks on “Avarice,” which for the most part were produced and recorded by the same team, “Crush” finds Amsterdam branching out with multiple producers, including Portland-based Trox (50 Cent, G-Unit), Tope and past collaborator DJ Grumble. The record, an examination of a failed relationship and its aftermath in the social-media age, can almost be divided into three parts: The first three tracks introduce the themes; the middle three tracks go more personal; and the final songs tie it all together, ratcheting up the energy as the album speeds to its conclusion.
The middle section, produced in minimalist fashion by Tope, offers some of the strongest material. “Danny Ainge” is an instant highlight, an urban love song that sets Amsterdam’s smooth verses against a glitch-y, music box-driven beat. Bend singer Kourtni guests on the trap-influenced “Zoning” and “Never Rains,” which features a verse from Brooklyn rapper Skyzoo.
Two of the album’s strongest songs are based around beats Amsterdam purchased online. The title track, produced by Ill Fated, builds up a slinky bass line into an R&B stunner, while “Hooks” frames one of Amsterdam’s most emotional performances with somber piano and electronic swells.
— Brian McElhiney, The Bulletin