Published Jan 29, 2017If there's an award for most exuberant album cover of 2017, then Toronto's Derek Wise is definitely an early contender for first place with his debut album Inglorious. Equipped with two ready-to-attack Dobermans, set in front of what looks to be a post-apocalyptic backdrop, Wise stands with menacing assuredness — which is not unlike the actual music itself.
For 14 tracks straight, Wise nestles himself into a very dark soundscape, with lyrics sounding like they're straight from the pages of an urban, underworld memoir. The first line: "I wash the drugs with a strainer / I fucked your bitch so don't blame her." Despite his run-ins with the law — Wise was slapped with 15 serious charges two years ago, which he addresses on "Had to Wake Up" ("Had to wake up / Beat up all the charges / Yeah they dropped those allegations like some garbage") — he still talks recklessly about drugs, death and everything in between.
The hollowed out 808s, trap drums and heavily atmospheric backdrops, provided largely by producers Stretch, Geoff Wood and Urs Truli, aren't anything revolutionary for rap music in 2017, but Wise brings a certain vocal texture that isn't easily duplicated. Often, he layers his voice to the point that it's not easily discernible from the beat, creating a druggy vortex of sound perfect soundtrack for an afterhours comedown.
While this makes for a solid 50-minute psychotropic binge, that blurriness is also what renders the album somewhat one-dimensional. Picking a single song to play is next to impossible, as the album is more as a horror movie soundtrack than something you can enjoy for a three-minute car ride. The only "grab-and-go" on the whole project is uptempo, quasi-love cut "Disconnected."
The XO affiliate without doubt leaves an impression for both new and old listeners, but doesn't necessarily knock it out of the park, either. As he continues to refine his sound, hopefully he can create something with a little more replay value. (Independent)