Before we get into “Trash Island” proper let’s explain who all the participants are. Thaiboy Digital has an accurate name in a sense — he’s Thai by birth and currently lives in Thailand, but he spent his formative years in Sweden and developed his rap style there until he was deported when his mother’s work visa expires. It’s a pretty shitty situation if you ask me, but it doesn’t seem to have hurt his career that much. Bladee and Ecco2K are friends of his from a Swedish rap crew called Drain Gang. Even though he was forcibly evicted from the place he called home, it makes me happy to see Thaiboy was able to keep working with his friends and release an album together.
The producer of this album is another Swede who goes by Whitearmor, and according to Discogs (which contributed significantly to my research here) he was completely uncredited on the album. That’s unfortunate given that I feel his work on “Trash Island” may be its strongest asset. The three rapper/singers here are all performing in English, so there’s no language barrier for an ignorant American like me, but they’re all performing the Soundcloud style that was ubiquitous in 2019 and still influential today. It’s the hauntingly atmospheric sound of tracks like “The Void” that draws me into Drain Gang’s music and makes lyrics like “two steps back, one step forward, one foot into the void and I’m aching for it” achieve a significance they couldn’t on their own.
That doesn’t mean “The Void” is a great song. It simply means it’s an average song for the emo rap genre that’s elevated a bit by the sparse sound and echoing vocals. Whitearmor could provide these same tracks to almost any AutoTune rapper and garner some level of success. He knows when to let the bass bop on “You Lose” and when to pull back and let the music ride for a bit, making that thump sweeter when it returns. Whitearmor immediately sounds like a contemporary of Nick Mira, Benny Blanco and Mike Will Made It. For a name I didn’t even know before starting this review, I have to say I’m impressed by his chops.
Like so many modern rap albums “Trash Island” is incredibly short at under 23 minutes. Writing this review took longer than listening to it. The cup of coffee I was drinking while writing it was still warm when I finished. This might seem like an opportunity to get on a soapbox and rant about how nobody makes real albums any more, but I actually think “Trash Island” is the perfect length. For better or worse the rappers involved have nothing terribly intriguing to say, so the strength of the length is in how casual of a listening experience it is. This is music designed for Instagram reels and TikTok videos. You get in and out in a couple minutes. That’s all you want, that’s all you need. This is music tailor made for social media. If that’s not your cup of tea you should look elsewhere.