Dabbla is one of the most formidable rappers on the circuit. He’s been a staple figure in our homegrown scene for years and represents a number of crews (LDZ, Problem Child and Dead Players), but 2016 is finally the year that he stands on his own two feet for an entire project. ‘Year Of The Monkey’ is released through High Focus Records, and features appearances from Dirty Dike, Cobes, Jam Baxter and more, as well as production from Ghosttown, Sumgii and Naive.
The LP opens with ‘Everything’, and from the moment the jazzy keys and Dabbla’s tight, precise flow and witty content kick in it’s clear that this is going to be one very impressive project. Tom Caruana produces the following tune, entitled ‘Supermodified’, and Dabbs delivers his lyricism with his signature bounce; the multisyllabics, humourous content and sheer speed of his MCing is wildly entertaining. ‘PterdactILL’ is an undisputable banger, and Ghosttown exploits his penchant for off-kilter eastern samples for the fantastic production.
‘Cheers’ is preempted by some guy telling Dabbla that ‘it’s all about dubstep’, and the track itself is uptempo, bouncy and ferociously energetic with a deep, hard-hitting bass. By now you’ve all seen the excellent visuals for ‘Randeer’ and the quirky cut is still a great addition to the tracklist here. ‘Incomparable’ features flawless rhymes and great production, as well some pretty weird imagery being conjoured up by Dabbla’s writing; he spits “2Pac isn’t dead you mug and Biggie’s on the moon/they got Jimi Hendrix on the decks and Whitney on the spoon”, and who else could drop that on a track and make it sound as good as it does here.
‘Penis For The Day’ features Dirty Dike and Dubbledge, and it’s a dope mix of styles and flavours over a slow-moving, groovy beat contributed by Naive. ‘Stupid’ is another well-received single from the LP and the skippy flows and percussive delivery from Dabbla makes for a really strong cut. ‘Spin’ is a nice collaboration with fellow LDZ representative Cobes, and the tongue-twisting patterns and unorthodox rhythms are expertly executed over a glitchy instrumental. These two spitter’s sound perfect on a track together, and if this solo album isn’t enough to satisfy your fiend for Dabbla material, a new LDZ project is also rumoured to be on the way.
I’m not going to go into any detail about ‘Get It’ which features Ocean Wisdom but to say both MC’s performances are outstanding, and if you weren’t impressed with Ocean’s impeccable rapid-fire lyricism before, there’s no doubt that you will be after hearing this. Jam Baxter appears on ‘Vomit’, which is produced by Ghosttown; what is so good about this cut is that it doesn’t sound like a Dead Players leftover as the trio deliver an upfront and in your face stomper with this one. ‘Butterfly’ is a little more restrained than the majority of tracks on here, but not too many MC’s can pull off a 6/8 time-signature with the ease that Dabbla does here. The LP closes out with the amazing ‘Life Line’ which takes us on a journey from Dabbla’s birth to the present day and beyond in an amusing and impressive fashion.
‘Year Of The Monkey’ is fantastic. There’s not a weak track, weak verse, weak beat or anything at all weak on this LP. The rhymes are on-point, and the vibe of the beats create a cohesive vibe for the LP; with a variety of producers (some of which take the production in some pretty weird directions) Dabbla ties these tracks together with his unique and memorable style. The LP drops tomorrow, so get up early and go and get it.
By Sam Bennett