Here I Go is the first wave from Southern California artist Dmo, the EP preceding the army that is to be Roofless California. Focusing on the production, cadence, and lyrical dexterity is one way to go about this; however, we can keep that part short and just let you know that all that is there. Focusing rather on the themes and flow of the project as a whole. This is a tale unique to places like southern California. Glitz, pretty women, and sunshine at times masking the realities faced by a young man of conscious beset by the frailty of his own humanity.
“Don’t bury me in a casket.” “Aston17” is the second best song on the project. Smooth piano keys supported by minimal percussion interruption afford Dmo the opportunity to address the listener without fear of being misconstrued. Here, the artist in question is imploring the listener to not place him in the restrictive confines of expectations for someone of this age and of this art form. However, this particular joint also reads like a letter to himself, the younger, reckless, immature, and impressionable version of him. That letter is letting us know that love, in its sophomoric form is often tainted by selfishness and pride. Dmo expresses this in the most millennial way possible with his reference to sub tweeting a woman every day without actually expressing words. Perhaps that is point, that to live as if you are forever young is a double-edged sword. You are forever connected to the joy of your youth and at the same time prey to its puerile failings. One might question if it should have been placed at another point in the project given the understated nature of the intro track. However, it can’t be said enough how well this particular song was crafted from bars to production.
The best track on the album and the one that will probably get the most play on your workout playlists is “Tea and Coffee.” Just before assaulting our ears with a flawless delivery that wedded perfectly with the scintillating beat, Dmo let us know what it was, “I got plenty verses man.” Then begins to proceed to show off just how much he’s begun to get a handle on this rap thing. The track just bleeds California cool while at the same time adhering to the theme of a kid on his way, who is figuring out this puzzle called life as he does it.
Amidst the braggadocio that has since the beginning of rap been a standard, lays a stark honesty in this project, an acknowledgment of shortcomings. To contradict is the human condition, to in one breath laud the experience of pushing an all white Benz with the top down in the California sun, and then in the next give a thesis speech on the effect the love of money has on our society. That is a level of introspection and granted access behind the rope into the mind of an artist that we always ask for. Dmo does not have it all figured out but he is learning and growing. Frankly, being an artist in his 20s, it would ring false in the ears of his listeners if he came off any other way.
The question we have is for the next project. Will Dmo be able to reach further into the magician’s hat and pull out more than just a rabbit? For the rabbit is what we expect, but exceeding expectations is what separates the Mickey Factz’s from the Lupe Fiasco’s. Do you want to make a lasting impression? As listeners and consumers of hip-hop, we must carry ourselves as arbiters of the craft and demand for more than very good. This project isn’t perfect. Sequencing could have been better, more tone inflections/flow switches, and sonically you could ask for more sounds that hit. Yet make no mistake this is a very good piece of work, with moments of brilliance. This writer believes Dmo has not reached his ceiling yet, as he himself says, “the roof never close over here man,” and now we’re waiting to see what’s next.
You can stream and download Dmo’s project “Here I Go” at thisisdmo.com
Jotham Kabuye and his daily struggles with adulting can be followed @jothamkitara