As long as its been alive one thing you could always look for in rap is healthy competition. That natural desire for supremacy has always been prevalent even in other portions of the culture like beatboxing, graffiti, DJing and even breakdancing. It’s never been enough to just be good at what you do in this thing called Hip-Hop we love so much. There will always be a quest for every artist involved to be the best in their respective field. If you think about all the top names out now like Drake, Kendrick and J. Cole you can find plenty of lines where they all stake their claim as the best in the game currently.
This longing for greatness doesn’t only extend to the mainstream but even on a more regional level as well. In my home state of Mississippi it doesn’t take long to see competition in the form of top 10 rapper lists (there have literally been 3,025 of them from the state alone this year), battle rap competitions (yes, you can catch some bars in the Magnolia state) and other arenas. Sonically this thought process of competitive nature from an MC comes to life with the release of D.O.L.O.’s “More To Say” project. The Jackson native went into the creation of the mixtape – formerly titled “Ovay”- with a clear goal of putting his fans, those potential fans who haven’t yet listened and his rapping peers on notice. “More To Say is me stating don’t disrespect me when you start to mention the greats, I have only just begun and I’m coming.”
It’s bold for D.O.L.O. to take a route so confident in it’s approach but it’s also a bit refreshing. True enough setting the bar of expectation so high can also be a detriment depending on the quality of music that follows. If you get everyone’s attention and all that comes of it is disappointment then simply put – you played yourself. In this seemingly vulnerable position it doesn’t really take anything away from D.O.L.O. as much as it pushes him to test his skills. I’m confident this is what a listener will find out upon pressing play.
“I made my tape into three different segments. I wanted the beginning to be pure Hip-Hop, then more of the trendy-style love songs and then I ended the tape with a mixture of both.” This versatile look at how the project should be constructed benefits D.O.L.O. as it helps him from getting too bogged down in one particular sound. Often times we can find with indie artists that they can be easily compared to some of their key influencers musically. While this isn’t necessarily bad, it does ultimately hurt when that artist is trying to establish their own particular niche. While I wouldn’t say D.O.L.O. has yet to find his own, I would say that it is hard to find one particular rapper to point to and say “this is who he sounds like”. I like that quality in the mixtape.
As previously stated by the artist, things kick off on more of a lyrical note here on “More To Say”. Soulful samples carry both of the first two records “Glory Road” and “Say Less”, laying the foundation for D.O.L.O. to drop some of the better bars on the tape from the jump. The latter track is one of the better joints of the complete mixtape. His flow on it is smooth and the content is pretty good and revealing at times. One thing I will say about these records though is that both badly needed a hook. I understand the point was to impress lyrically but going directly into a project and not hearing a catchy hook until track 3 isn’t the best set up.
Speaking of track 3, my goodness why is this shit so short! “Sucka Free” stood as the single from the project and deservedly so. It’s one of those joints that just gives that classic southern vibe. The style of music that you ride around in a box Chevy listening to. D.O.L.O. showcases a slicker approach in his attack than what is shown in the prior songs and it is one that works. Honestly I would have preferred to hear this as the intro based on the length and replay value. I believe the contrast in styles would have made for a better listen.
Things push on with another lyrically driven song in “BluePrint” followed by an anthem I’m sure a lot of his fellow Jacksonians will enjoy. Featuring Hollywood Luck, we get D.O.L.O.’s most club-ready single of the album with “Like A Ju”. This is another standout as he and Luck show a good chemistry. There are approximately 736 strip clubs in Jackson currently and if the DJ’s at them know what their doing this should be in their serato.
At this point of the set you’ll be able to hear the shift in energy D.O.L.O. mentioned he planned to do. “Hate Love” kicks that off with the MC going back to reflect over some of the failures that have happened to him in relationships and how they shape his current train of thought. The sample, which if I’m not mistaking comes from Musiq Soulchild’s “Love”, makes the track that much more enjoyable. The emotional side of D.O.L.O. continues to shine in full glory on his collaboration with Jones entitled “Crazy”. While its less introspective and personal than “Hate Love”, it is still a record that caters to any female listeners out there with it’s harmonizing melodies and content based on love.
“No English” is up next and I have to be honest, it’s not the strongest record on the project to me. The hook is repetitive and it just seems like he was a bit lazier in his writing on this track. I will say the content does fit into that particular section of the project, with him making his case as to why he wants this one particular lady by his side. In the end though the song just misses the mark and could have been left off the tracklist.
“Unfaithful” acts as the last of the more relationship-based singles of More To Say. While he takes a lot of the blame for some failures on previous tracks this one places the shoe on the other foot having him speak on a lady who has been leading him on. It’s not all the time that rappers put themselves in vulnerable positions so I respect that D.O.L.O. was able to get his “Drake” on.
The title track is up next, bringing us to the back end of the release. “More To Say” finds D.O.L.O. closer to his comfort zone than the tracks that preceded it. “How are you a legend? How are you the greatest? Cause when a real nigga say it it don’t get debated”. Strong statements like this one litter this song as its one of the more braggadocious ones on the project. With a title like “More To Say” though what else is to be expected?
D.O.L.O. than does a rendition of Drake’s Hype before closing the album with a statement record. “Here Lies A Christian” finds our artistic host in the most direct mindset of the entire project. Anyone who really knows him knows the rapper at which D.O.L.O. aims some scathing bars towards. Its a strong record but I will admit that his bonus track saves him in the grand scheme of sequencing. It would have been a bad look to close an album that shows such diversity in its topics by throwing your attention to a competitor.
Insert “The Women I Loved”, the unofficial/official closer to “More To Say”. The vibe here is akin to that of the middle of the album, very reflective on love and its affects on D.O.L.O. in the current. The difference is that this track is the most developed and effective in achieving the desired result of making you feel his emotions. The drawling production sets a tone that is palpable as the artist addresses each of his past loves one by one. Great note to leave off with.
Ambitious is what I would describe the project as more so than anything with one word. The concept fits the description with D.O.L.O. wanting to put everyone on notice of his words. Sonically its ambition lies in the tracks which vary from several spectrums that rap has to offer. He aimed to accomplish a lot and in the end I feel D.O.L.O. did just that, but I can also say he may not have done what he sought out to do in full. The ambition is a gift but it is also one that leads to some of the project’s downfalls in that he can at times try to do to much here. For what the project gains in him trying it also losses from him straying too far from the sound that best suits him.
In the end, “More To Say” still stands as a positive addition to D.O.L.O.’s catalog. When he shines he truly shows the potential to become one of the bigger artists Jackson has to offer. This is evident on records like “Sucka Free”, “The Women I Loved” and “Like A Ju”. Though he may still be on his mission to be noted as a rap legend D.O.L.O. proves he certainly has more to say and that you should be listening.