Published Apr 30, 2019It's hard to imagine that two artists who met via social media and have known each other for just under two years could connect on a level that they understand each other's work ethic, creative styles and personalities so well that they've already created an unrelenting hype around them, including sold-out shows and label love. But for Toronto rapper JustJohn and producer Dom Dias, this is the life of DON. After releasing their EPs DON and DON II in 2018, the duo have returned to close the DON EP trilogy with the third and final instalment.
Without offering any song over three minutes, JustJohn and Dom Dias deliberately layer their music over and over again with hi-hats, snagging synths and industrial bass lines to deliver gut-punching production that cradles its aggressive verses and catchy hooks. Similarly to their breakout hit "Soundboi," "Selecta" relishes in Jamaican soundsystem culture, while "Wild" roots itself in an African jungle driven by an elephant trumpet, and the headbanging anthem "Pull Up" draws from UK garage and grime culture.
Though the production is filtered through different sound cultures throughout the world, JustJohn adapts to them all. Often without taking a breath, he floats over the beats manipulating his voice, depending on the pace and power of the track, and though, at times, he may not be the most lyrical rapper, it still clicks in a way that works.
JustJohn isn't creating any specific narrative, but rather evoking an emotion and attachment to the song, perhaps no better demonstrated than on "Heatstroke," which encompasses all these sounds and lyrical deliveries into one cohesive single.
At its best, DON III sounds as if Mike Tyson starred in Fritz Lang's Metropolis, but you're not quite sure why. Though DON III closes out JustJohn and Dom Dias' EP trilogy, it also raises the questions of whether their next project will tighten up and deliver a message or whether it'll be another compilation of hard-hitting bangers. (Warner)