MISHKA : Top 20 Rap Releases Of 2011 (December 29, 2011)
40 Best Rap Albums of 2011 (December 8,2011)
#17. On Digital Lows, the Depeche Mode and Modest Mouse samples over boom-bap production constitute more than hipster catnip. As the beats begin to unfurl, amped-up, Memphis-bred stoner-spitter Cities Aviv comes through and bodies each darkly hazy track. With a poison-tipped, humor-laced intensity, he bemoans coke lines in dirty bathrooms and compares himself to Super Mario villains, turning a brash debut into a statement that’s both hilarious and menacingly human. L.M.
Rising Article - Pitchfork (September 20, 2011)
On Memphis rapper Cities Aviv’s Shirley Bassey-sampling summer jam “Coastin’”, he boasts “By the time I’m 25, yeah, the world is mine.” That gives 22-year-old Gavin Mays three years until he takes over. It’s a big, probably-fake goal, but if his singles and recent album Digital Lows are any indication, he’s at least poised to grab some attention with his flow (somewhere between RZA and Lupe Fiasco), ecelctic samples (Steely Dan, Depeche Mode, cheeseball pop duo the Alessi Brothers), and quotability (“In this 8-bit world, I’m Bowser”).
Digital Lows Review (7.5) - Pitchfork
“Dude’s got personality. He’s a conflicted, searching thinker, with an outsider/insider perspective that merges the personal and the political, and lashes-out against the street mentality that mocks his forward-thinking hip-hop. “Niggas say I dress white,” he observes a little hurt, and retorts, “flow must be cocaine.” He also makes a joke about “white bitches” whose “favorite band is Mr. Bungle,” which is just really funny. A few years ago this would be derisively called “hipster rap,” but that kind of categorical thinking has been pleasantly deconstructed by now.”
Best Rap Songs of The Year…So Far - SPIN Magazine (July 1.2011)
Cities Aviv, “Die Young”
This sure ain’t fair to Cities Aviv, but think of Digital Lows as the anti-Goblin. Often just as brooding, ugly and, mean-spirited as Tyler, the Creator’s sophomore solo effort, it’s also about half as long, and never totally gives in to hipster nihilism. On “Die Young,” producer Muted Drone loops Depeche Mode’s “People Are People” so that it sounds like some noisy, no-wave, hip-hop hybrid, and Cities sounds a lot like Tyler when he tells listeners, “Fuck school, burn books, and drop out of college.” But he doesn’t stop there. He tells you what to do next: “And feel the strength of street knowledge.”
Digital Lows Review (4/5) - Sputnik Music (July 15,2011)
Digital Lows is both intelligently written and well produced. Cities Aviv does not use one cohesive concept for the album but various themes within each song. These are encompassed by a first person narration which flows consistently through each track (excluding the instrumentals). The album combines a chill overall atmosphere with a dense, dark, daring, and truthful tone that attacks the uncertainty and pragmatic attitudes of life on the streets. Using his first person narrative technique Cities Aviv effectively gives his own point of view while subtly exploiting the availability of opinion in the occasional verse. This introspective outlook adds a unique character which can be seen as one of the many hooks mentioned as being used throughout the album.
Brooklyn Vegan - July 26, 2011
Cities Aviv takes the beats, which on their own would make up a pretty solid chillwave album, and spits biting lines with a classic southern drawl. Fille Catatonique provides sung vocals which blend quite nicely with the album’s vibes. The final track, “Float On,” features Cities Aviv rapping over chillwaver Blackbird Blackbird’s cover of the Modest Mouse song, that he recorded for 2010’s Happy High EP. It’s a fun way to end the album, and is far better than Lupe Fiasco’s “The Show Must Go On,” which sampled the Modest Mouse song earlier this year.