Perhaps more accurately described as an art project than a band, Hype Williams (named after the iconic hip-hop music video director) has been one of the underground music world's most enigmatic, inscrutable entities since emerging during the tail-end of the 2000s, with a string of bizarre, confusing recordings and videos to its name.
When it first appeared in public view, it was a vehicle of Londoner Dean Blunt and Russian-born Inga Copeland, both of whom have since embarked on solo careers, but Hype Williams has been described as a relay project overseen by an individual referred to as Denna Frances Glass, and has continued with different members. In any case, the music produced by Hype Williams has generally been shrewdly lo-fi, hazy, and druggy, and has incorporated influences from across the spectrum of rock, hip-hop, R&B, and experimental music. A Hype Williams recording is equally likely to contain hypnotic, lengthy drone-rock jams, blown-out U.K. bass mutations, or a woozy cover of a Sade hit. Interviews and public appearances have been scarce, information has typically been cryptic and contradictory, and it's been nearly impossible to tell if the project is meant to be taken seriously or not. Along with artists such as James Ferraro and early Ducktails, Hype Williams were often described by the press as "hypnagogic pop," but their work seemed much less sunny or nostalgic than their American counterparts, and more reflective of a darker reality.
Hype Williams have been said to exist in some form since 2005, with Blunt and Copeland becoming involved in 2007. Beginning around 2009, Hype Williams released several limited cassettes and CD-Rs in addition to digital files and mixtapes, and videos uploaded to a YouTube channel called pollyjacobsen. De Stijl issued the group's first vinyl release, 2009's Han Dynasty I EP, and Carnivals issued their 2010 debut full-length Untitled, which quickly became a favorite of publications such as FACT and The Wire. EP Do Roids and Kill E'rything, featuring Drake edit "Ooovrrr" and an interpretation of Sade's "Sweetest Taboo" retitled "The Throning," appeared on Second Layer Records, with second full-length Find Out What Happens When People Stop Being Polite, and Start Gettin Reel (also including "The Throning") issued by De Stijl at the end of the year. Third LP One Nation was released by Hippos in Tanks (also home to artists like Ferraro and Laurel Halo) in 2011, and the group joined the Hyperdub roster with the release of the EP Kelly Price W8 Gain, Vol 2.
Blunt and Copeland continued to use the Hype Williams moniker for a few more limited releases as well of remixes of artists including King Midas Sound and Mark Stewart, as well as their contribution to Shangaan Shake (a remix companion to the Shangaan Electro compilation released by Honest Jon's), but the duo's second Hyperdub release, 2012 full-length Black Is Beautiful, was credited to Dean Blunt & Inga Copeland. The album was well-received, appearing on many year-end lists, but it appeared to be the final collaboration between Blunt and Copeland, who announced that they were no longer working together in 2013. Both continued releasing solo material, with Blunt's relatively straightforward break-up album The Redeemer receiving massive acclaim in 2013, and Copeland releasing several EPs and 2014 full-length Because I'm Worth It before adopting the moniker Lolina in 2015. In 2016, a new Hype Williams album titled 10/10 was released, without explanation of who was behind it, only the notice that Blunt and Copeland were not involved. (Copeland stated that she knew nothing about it and hadn't heard it.) A few more digital releases credited to Hype Williams surfaced in early 2017, and the group signed to Big Dada, releasing full-length Rainbow Edition and non-album cut "Kathy Goes 2 Haiti" later in the year. During this iteration of Hype Williams, the project's members were referred to as Slaughter and Silvermane. ~ Paul Simpson, Rovi