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WPGM Recommends: Dylan Williams – DRiP (EP Review)

Rapper, Dylan Williams, released his debut project, DRiP, Friday (December 16). Dylan has been making music long before he was discovered as a model, and the project is “often an open and honest depiction of navigating through life as a rapper and black model from South London”.

From “walking catwalks in New York and Paris, to returning to London to finish his education”, the story of his endeavour is apparent right throughout this EP. Recently he opened up for cult American rapper and songwriter, Sy Ari Da Kid, and now he headlines his own free show, with special guests, at Birthdays Dalston, tonight (December 19).

The start’s title’s very evocative, in “Summer In Atlanta”. It starts with lively conversation, the music itself a commotion. It’s deep and resonates deep, shaking your bones with rattling drum, bottomless bass and heavy synth. Ponderous words are spoken before the song proper resumes, again.

Dylan demands you “Watch Me Hustle”. It’s grave and fatal with deceptively tinkling piano. The music that killer rappers move to. Either that or grievous bodily harm. Lines like “Your life can change in a second/I use my craft as a weapon” very much evoking this feel further. Rattling drum, again, playing a part, fading out with the tinkling that opened it.

The far off lands of “Foreigns” has, funnily enough, an ethnic feel to it. The sound is akin to percussive pan flute, a melody playing towards the ethereal. Very spaced out. The drums lock in nice, sparse to let the instrumentation permeate and be absorbed. Then a ringing goes right through you, deep and bassy before another fadeout.

Things are then “So Nice So Nice”. Deep bass plays a part in this one, too. It’s adjoined with a simple keyboard melody and, almost, tribal sounding percussion and drum. To the roots and very, as said previously, ethnic. It seems to concern Williams’ joy at finding a woman too good to be true, the feeling of it all so nice, so nice.

Picture the scene of “23.20 In Novakov”, a more serious one. It swirls and claps, moody the word. Grave and fatalistic also describing the feel. “You can’t fault me for tryin’/because I didn’t say what you thought, am I lyin’?” a pertinent question to pose, indeed. This very much encapsulating the endeavour of his life up until then, the struggling and striving.

“Scales” climbs like practicing musical theory, perhaps with a Jamaican lilt to it. It’s definitely one to dance to, particularly given the seriousness of the previous track. Chunks of the hook are sung in words alien to this reviewer. Possibly African in origin, Jamaican or otherwise. The simple melody locks in with drum and percussion expertly.

It’s demanded you “Turn Up”, which bobs and weaves, rattling and clapping. The hook implores the song title, the feel of playing music as loud as possible and letting it wash over you. The closing minute seems to have an undercurrent of what sounds like monks mournfully singing in a far off monastery, giving the whole thing a massive sound.

Title track in essence, “Drip, Drip, Drip”, mixes bassy melody with chopped male singing samples. It then breaks out, taking flight before resuming normal service. When it expands its soundscape, it appears to incorporate female chopped singing samples. Mix the two and you get hot and heavy?

DRiP ends with “Weekdays & Weekends”, and it’s a relaxing number, sedate and ponderous. It appears to concern itself explaining that what essentially is the jet set life; turning weekdays into weekends and weekends into weekdays. The melody plays thoughtfully, like taking stock of things and contemplating the good life you’ve struggled and strived for. Conversation ends the project as it starts.

High points in this project, the most excellent of the lot, are “Foreigns”, “23.20 In Novikov” and “Weekdays & Weekends”. The first’s ethnic sound floats in a realm almost beyond the human sense of touch and feel. It’s ability to transport the sort of feeling sought when reading a book. However, its subsequent power, ringing and bassy, goes right through you, as if you can touch and feel.

Then there’s “23.20 In Novikov” with that line of “You can’t fault me for tryin’/because I didn’t say what you thought, am I lyin’?” It appears to detail the life of working dead end jobs, the grind of nightshift. The work put into achieving your dreams, sort of thing. The grave soundscape definitely suits the subject matter, that of grave and bleak.

EP closer, “Weekdays & Weekends”, is the other end of “23.20 In Novikov”. They link up because the closer’s the result of hard work, struggling and striving, and the prior track’s working towards that pipeline dream achieved in the latter. He used to struggle all day everyday, and now his week constitutes that of those with jet set lifestyles. Excellent and clever repetition of themes.

These tracks are a good spread of the project, occurring roughly start, middle and end. Another point of note not already mentioned regarding its start is “Watch Me Hustle”. The line “Your life can change in a second/I use my craft as a weapon”, for example, the tool of a wordsmith. Two tracks later, “So Nice So Nice”, there’s another link, that of ethnic sounds, to the aforementioned “Foreigns”.

Another point of note not already mentioned regarding towards the EP’s end is “Turn Up”. The closing minute, with that undercurrent of what sounds like monks mournfully singing in a far off monastery, giving the whole thing a massive sound, really gives proceedings a thematic, maybe even cinematic, feel. The adjoining of both male and female vocal samples in “Drip, Drip, Drip” is clever, too.

The effort put into conveying Dylan’s life story is as such that the project comes across as suitably intimate. Struggle and strife are themes that rear their head more than once, and his current success seems as such that when he recounts previous endeavours it’s quite inspiring. Similar repetition is also in the ethnic sounds on at least a couple of tracks. Dylan Williams’ DRiP can be heard on iTunes here.

Also visit his Twitter, Soundcloud, and LiveNation pages.

Words by Andrew Watson

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