The accolades have been piling up in recent months for Patrick Paige II. His sophomore album, If I Fail, Are We Still Cool? arrives this Friday, May 21 via Fat Possum, after an immaculate rollout, almost three years to the day since his debut dropped. He has spent the time building. Letters of Irrelevance was a wrenching, restive catharsis for Paige, whose work on bass for The Internet had some listeners expecting more head-nodding funk. If I Fail, Are We Still Cool? is something closer to a concept album, a biography remembered from a sky-high perspective. 

First came “So They Say,” a velvety meditation on self-worth and artistry. “Whisper (Want My Luv)” dropped soon after. With bandmate Steve Lacy in tow, Paige II made sure to placate the band’s fanbase before countering again with the workout anthem “Big Plays” and nostalgic slow jam “Good Grace.” 

Together, they’re four singles that only begin to cover Paige II’s swath of talents. His raps alone range from commanding to contemplative, but his voice is a revelation too. And don’t get me started on the production—there’s an orchestral feel to his productions, one that only comes from someone who lives, eats, and breathes music. He sums it up nicely on “So They Say”:

“Complex wiring and circuitry gave me emotions
Connected to my brain from which that came all the notions”

It’s a knack Paige II shares with a fellow bassist and Angeleno: Thundercat. The two first met in 2012, when Paige II’s career with The Internet was just beginning to take off. Thundercat, meanwhile, had just ended a historic ten-year run as bassist for Suicidal Tendencies. He would release his own seismic solo album, Apocalypse, the following year.

As the years passed, the two bassists began to form a friendship around things other than music—namely, video games (Paige II was better then, Thundercat’s better now), tattoos (they both like going to Dan McWilliams, when he decides to pick up the phone), and more recently, getting healthy. That means spiritually, emotionally, and physically. Especially physically.

Pre-order/save If I Fail Are We Still Cool? here.

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