Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Reviews:: D-Sisive - Let The Children Die

As a wise man once said "from great pain comes great art" (in fact I might be that wise man, as I think I just made that up), and I can think of no better recent musical example of this than the output of Toronto MC D-Sisive over the last year or so. From his re-introduction to the Canadian hip hop scene on the excellent EP The Book, through various single releases after that, up to the release of his debut full-length album, Let The Children Die, earlier this month, the main theme driving D's songwriting was the untimely passing of both his parents, and the ensuing paralysis that enveloped both his life and his music career.

The fact that D-Sisive would choose to write songs about his parents, after losing both of them much earlier than most of us would even consider losing one of our parents, isn't in it itself surprising. What is surprising is that he's managed to do it in a manner that is both raw and brutally honest, but also engaging and incredibly listenable for the, uhhh, listener. Well for some listeners I guess, certainly me for one, but there aren't any electro dance jams here for the kids in pink & blue neon high tops to dance awkwardly to. It's hip hop, and it is morose, and it is un-apologetic about both. But D himself knows better than anyone that what he's doing isn't for everyone, and he beats any haters to the punch with a self-critique in the Introduction:

He's so-so and his voice annoys me
high-pitch pierce in my headphones foam
string section, kill the whining
air violins played right behind him

So yeah, D-Sisive knows there's people out there who aren't going to feel what he does, and although his songs make it clear he wants his shit to be heard, it's clear that putting out something he believes in is more important than becoming famous at any cost. If that wasn't the case, he would've gone the Satan slacks route years ago when he had American management shopping him to labels.

But I think those who are open to hearing what D-Sisive has to say will be surprised by the quality on display throughout the nineteen songs on Let The Children Die. That quality derives from a couple sources, the first being that Derek Christoff can flat rap his ass off. His flow is rock solid, his lyrics and wordplay are clever, and the imagery he creates with his storytelling is mighty vivid. The second source of that quality is the production, as D has not only selected beats that stay true to that thumping, boom bap essence (Let The Children Die that those of us raised on what I somewhat deebaggily still insist on referring to as "real hip hop" can appreciate, but he's also unafraid to take a risk when the song calls for it (Die In Amsterdam).

D and the fine folks at Urbnet leaked a few of the songs from the album in the months leading up to it's release, but there are so many solid new jams here that the length, normally one of my constant bug-a-boos with modern hip hop releases, is a strength rather than a weakness. Nobody With A Notepad is one of those pre-released jams, but it still remains my jam. Seriously, the beat, vocal samples (what song is this? someone let me know), and D's lyrics are pretty well near perfect in my humble - I've easily listened to this song more this last month or so than anything else. Back Then deserves a mention for its inherent contradiction: you'd expect a nostalgic throwback song over a smooth, sax-laden 80's R&B; track to be a feel good piece, but not with D-Sisive at the helm, it's more a of a matter of fact observation of his younger self. Song To Sing, the Classified-featuring Riot I Caused, and the solid, Muneshine produced/featuring I See puts the early-album sadness back on the shelf and puts wack MC's on notice.

Glorious is as good a tribute to D-Sisive's storytelling skills as you'll find - he turns a high school jump & thump into a riveting, head-nodding song (again, what song is sampled here, tell me it's not the James Blunt song with very similar lyrics). The old school 808 thump of High School Cool is mixed with some Bukowski(maybe?), guitar riffage, Eazy, and nonsense babbling to create one of my favorite jams (Kyprios is solid on this by the way, makes me think I might've checked for him when he had the solo album out - "beats like Dwight Schrute" is a hot line). Mount Uniacke legend Buck65 joins D to bless the slow thumpage of The Superbowl Is Over, and is but another reason why having Rich hosting for Radio 2 and being readily available for guest spots (also see his work on Classified's Loonie) is a welcome development.

So where does all of that leave us? I think it's safe to say that if you like your hip hop cocktail mixed with equal parts sadness, honesty, skills, hunger, and anger, that you'll enjoy a taste of what D-Sisive has concocted on this album. Like this analogy, it doesn't go down smooth, but the after effects are worth it. As for myself, I doubt anything will supplant this for my Canadian hip hop album of the year.

MP3:: D-Sisive - Die In Amsterdam

MP3:: D-Sisive - Like This f. Guilty Simpson

MP3:: D-Sisive - Clowny Clown

Posted at 12:37 PM by naedoo :: 5 comments

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At 4:18 PM, Blogger Gwardo did sayeth:

Couldn't agree more. It's a great album.

BTW I think the spoken word at the end of High School Cool is taken from "Swimming to Cambodia" by Spalding Gray.


At 4:08 PM, Anonymous Anonymous did sayeth:

Canadian hip hop album of the year? You've gotta be kidding me. I can think of 4 better Canadian hip hop albums so far and it's only June...


At 5:03 PM, Blogger ack did sayeth:

Such as?


At 9:32 PM, Blogger The R.O.B. did sayeth:

Perhaps I will check this... I remember "Popped" from years ago. I know you guys don't like comparisons, but a Canadian Eminem?


At 9:50 PM, Blogger naedoo did sayeth:

haha, are you asking if that's a good comparison or questioning why we'd be so high on such a person?

If it's the former, then yeah that's the comparison pretty much everyone has made (he even addressed it himself on Critics, a song I liked much better than Popped). But there's no comparison anymore, Eminem is a pretty much a parody of himself now.


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