If you’re an avid follower of the underground rap scene, the name Dapo will probably already mean something special. A talented young artist from the creative heart of Long Island, New York, Dapo’s name started circulating in March of this year, with hype and interest around his debut album carrying his evocative, independent sound to every corner of the underground scene. A powerful and energetic performer, he had already cut his teeth on tracks like ‘Active’ and ‘Things That I Know’, but as every artist and critic knows, it’s the debut record that truly puts them to the test.
Released in the closing days of March this year, Dapo’s debut album is the kaleidoscopic ‘House of Mirrors’, a fitting reflective and somewhat erratic release that sees him trying to figure out who he is as an artist. The result is an album of experimentation and exploration, one that sometimes works and sometimes doesn’t, but is always looking to give you something new.
Opening with two of the album’s best tracks, ‘Law of Mirrors’ and ‘Best In The World’, Dapo wastes little time in making his mark, delivering smooth beats, seamless transitions, and brilliant verse that carry it all home. It's bold, engaging, and filled with fresh sounds that Dapo works with perfectly, setting a wonderfully high standard that he ends up chasing for the rest of the album. On ‘Nice Guy’, the pitch swings widely, offering a bold hook that carries it through, while elsewhere ‘One Hundred’ and ‘Blessings’ shake with more heavy features and somewhat stilted production. It’s an odd mix, but it’s ultimately all part of the journey, pushing every idea and sound to the forefront and allowing us to pick through the parts that speak most honestly to us.
Musically, there’s a lot to enjoy on the album, and Dapo has worked hard to deliver a taste of everything, from Travis Scott and Kanye West to J Cole and Kendrick Lamar. Where Dapo struggles though, is in his clarity, and no matter what moment on the album you pick, you can be sure to find a layer of autotune and reverb. Strangely, for an album as personal and introspective as ‘House of Mirrors’ is, Dapo has enlisted a massive roster of artists to feature, creating a revolving door of sounds and style courtesy of Lil Kyo XR, Merc, King Cxge, Jesus, T-Time, and more.
While the quality and production varies from track to track, you can’t deny that Dapo has put some real heart and soul into each piece. Offering a rough, but expansive spectrum, there’s a lot to experience and unpack on ‘House of Mirrors’, and while it’s not always perfect, it’s definitely worth hearing.
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