What’s impressive about Portraits of Tracy, an 18-year-old rapper from Baton Rouge, Louisiana, is how he’s already made waves with songs like “En Garde.” Couren Bowman, who also goes by the name Couren The Producer, has been releasing music on SoundCloud and Spotify since he was 15. On “En Garde,” a teaser for his third upcoming album Drive Home, his talents as both a rapper and producer are shown in spaces. Highlighted by a ghastly and celestial ambiance, the track suddenly transitions into a blaring uproar led by Bowman’s constant barrage of harsh realities.
Compared to his contemporaries, Bowman demonstrates a level of creativity that separates them from most. The instrumental is by far the most striking aspect of the track, constantly changing directions without losing sight of the song’s central focus as a rousing retaliation against any doubter of Bowman’s success. And while there is a transition early on, the two opposing sides of the instrumental fuse together seamlessly. By the end, he’s done so much under 4 minutes of track time that it feels like the song alone is a significant shift in his career.
Although his lyrics primarily consist of politically-fueled bars stemming from day-to-day hardships, the song in itself follows a narrative of Bowman’s creation. As the latest chapter in what he considers to be an entire Portraits of Tracy universe, the song is a continuation of Junie’s journey, who is the main character and a parallel to Bowman himself. With or without a narrative, the musicality is enough to prove the Portraits of Tracy moniker as a ready-for-war force in its own lane.
There are certainly comparisons to be made to hip-hop artists of the 2010s, specifically Tyler, the Creator, and Childish Gambino, which is why it should be no surprise that the two serve as inspirations for Bowman. But more impressively, he makes the music all his own while still coming from a long line of artists who’ve pushed the boundaries of hip-hop. And with a new song already due for Feb. 1st, Portraits of Tracy shows no signs of stopping any time soon.
Words: David Sosa