David Dallas - Falling Into Papatoetoe
Rapping and crooning over multi-textured beats and synths Dallas' latest album displays his trademark well-placed samples as well as pulling in some interesting talent for guesties, notably Ruby Frost and Sid Diamond. The opening and closing tracks 'The Wire' and 'The Gate' both feature Frost's ethereal vocals and these tunes give the album real lifts.
Some of the songs on this album are super-sick. 'Runnin'' has already been widely recognised for its superb sound, making it onto the soundtrack of football video game FIFA 14. The video features a boy running around the landscape surrounding Pawarenga, a small Far North Maori settlement. 'Southside' with lyrics like, 'Could be rough here, if your parents come here from an island, in the hope of a better life for the child and an education. But they ain't got time to keep an eye on them, they're working every day, they won't ever see retirement. School don't teach you to deal with this environment.'
'Transmitting Live' has got some nice rhymes on it. 'Follow' is also a sweet track with Dallas knocking out nicely flowing lyrics in homage to Aotearoa, 'I came from the future, my today is your tomorrow. Whatever we do, then the world gonna follow.'
But some of the tracks just don't deserve to be on the album. 'Right There' and 'One More' could have easily been left off without offending anyone. By the end of the album the omnipresent career commentary can make the whole thing feel like a sonic CV rather than a hiphop album. And although Dallas's obvious hard work and easy confidence will take his music far, it misses its full potential.
I mean sure WINZ and the Department of Corrections get backhanders on the album but can you really release a hiphop album in 2013 without any serious politics? Doesn't Dallas, who plays up his Papatoetoe roots have anything to say about the increased poverty and unemployment John Key's government has brought to South Auckland? What about putting some of his verbal viscosity to telling the world some real stories about life in Aotearoa right now? Surely they want to hear about life in Christchurch after the quake or about Auckland during the RWC or something...
Dallas needs to let his listeners off the hook, we know he's a good rapper with high production values, so now he just needs to deliver us more party anthems, social commentary and lyrical motivation and less resume filler. That said, the rapper from Papatoetoe's new album has got swag.