Best Picture: “Pantheon” (feat. Chester Watson)

Best Picture is a chameleon-like Los Angeles duo consisting of producers John War and Cubbi. On their chilling debut single “Pantheon,” they’ve enlisted the services of up-and-coming rapper Chester Watson, a staple of the north Miami underground hip-hop scene whose debut album A Japanese Horror Film is set to drop sometime early this year.

The collaboration is a seamless one. The production on “Pantheon” is clean and crafted with a deft, dark touch. Stutter-step percussion mixed with spooky flute and ambient vocal samples and building reverb provide a rich and cerebral psychedelic tapestry for Watson’s incisive rhymes. Watson has a soft-spoken, rambling delivery that is cold and still wholly calculated. His flow is stoned and lackadaisical—reminiscent of DOOM and Earl Sweatshirt—and his lyrics poke at the mundane, existential nuances of his disorienting life. It feels like a stream-of-consciousness as Watson takes us through his humdrum daily routine—getting dressed, eating Chinese food and hanging out in pizza parlors while plotting money moves, before later losing himself to mind-altering substances and literally levitating out of this world and posturing above all of the demons and plebeians in the game that he’s conquered. The noir, intricate production swells and snowballs while other electronic fixtures weave in and out and eventually climax in a thrilling crescendo that sees Watson declaring “I’m in the Pantheon, so I stand beyond.”

“Pantheon” is rich in romanticism: thoughts of alienation, isolation, and existential dread, coupled with contrasting notions of embracing pipe dreams while struggling to accept life’s tedious complacency. Watson focuses in on the little details—vibrant imagery that heightens the song’s bubbling sense of anxiety. Despite life’s mind-numbing normalcy and the struggle to break from it, Watson and Best Picture maintain that they’re ahead of the game. They truly do stand beyond.

Best Picture have several records in the works, and are known to dabble in many different styles, including hip-hop, R&B, IDM and electro-pop. Expect subsequent releases to showcase a diverse array of visceral sounds. For now, watch the gorgeous, trippy video for “Pantheon” below, directed by J$ON Payload.

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