rising hip-hop group The Image wearing masks

After we see the vision, we hear the truth. However, The Image always comes first.


In this case, we initially catch a glimpse of two non-descript artists. Blank white masks obscure their faces. Rorschach-style black tape would be the only thing close to a countenance. 

Once we hear them, everything changes… 


The Image—the Los Angeles duo of Watrcup [vocals, songwriting, arranging] and Franskiiz [vocals, production, engineering]—bury personal experiences inside of bold and boisterous alternative pop punctuated by hip-hop rhymes, electronic waves, R&B grooves, and cinematic flourishes. At the same time, they share a rich narrative with the scope of a graphic novel on their 2020 independent debut album, Humans By Association.


“We were thinking of the idea you have to present an image of yourself to be more than just an artist,” explains Jared. “You have to be a persona, create something unique, and stand out. We wanted to build a little world where the music could sit nicely. We pave our own lane you can connect to. It’s more than just sound, but it starts there.”


Their two separate paths converged inside of The Image. Franskiiz grew up in Hawaii. His mom possessed a classical background, so he immersed himself in this tradition as a child. He played and studied classical piano and violin before eventually going to audio engineering school. Meanwhile, Watrcup always resided in Los Angeles, devouring everything from Daft Punk and Rush to Kid Cudi and Kendrick Lamar. Settling in L.A., Franskiiz cut his teeth behind the scenes by producing for Eric Bellinger, Smoove L, and Marc E. Bassy and launching solo music as Franskiiz. At the same time, Watrcup developed as talents as a writer with a rich literary background, penned songs, and recorded under his own Watrcup project.


In late 2018, the boys met during a studio session and began collaborating before officially introducing The Image six months later.

“We both contribute something different and personal,” Watrcup goes on. “I bring the ideas and inspiration, and Francis brings the life, musically. I’ll create a spark, and he’ll make it a fire.”

“It’s a yin and yang balance,” agrees Franskiiz. “We feed off each other, and it blossoms into something greater than either of us.”


The Image introduced this balance with a pair of tracks in 2019. “Who Are You” amassed 144K Spotify streams, and “Fine” quickly surpassed 183K Spotify streams. At the same time, they assembled Humans By Association. To accompany the music, Watrcup created a world of superheroes and supervillains in a power struggle under the backdrop of press suppression and a nascent new renaissance. 


“The Image is not just us,” Watrcup exclaims. “It’s hundreds of thousands of people throughout history. We’re just the latest to don the masks.”


Donning those masks, the two-piece open up the three-act album with “Lagunalude.” Merging spacey orchestration and airtight rapping, the duo dedicates the interlude to chief supervillain Captain Laguna and set the stage for the story. On its heels, the single “Beaujolais” intoxicates with French bars and a smooth and sizzling refrain meant to soundtrack a party. By the third act, The Image ascends to heavenly heights on “Gospel.” Backed by organ swells, synth transmissions, and thick drums, the track takes flight on a choir-backed chorus that instantly resounds.


“It’s a moment of redemption,” adds Watrcup. “It’s actually about sinning, infidelity, and going to hell to pay for your sins. You don’t want to drag someone else to face your issues. It’s the foundation to understand the project. We think of it as our gospel and message.”


In the end, the message echoes far beyond The Image.

“We’d like for the record to be inspiration to not box yourself in,” Watrcup leaves off. “We didn’t put any limitations on ourselves. We found out what we’re capable of.”


“The project helped us both grow,” concludes Franskiiz. “We locked into something larger and deeper than ourselves. The sky’s the limit.”