Wednesday, 3 July 2013


Dillon Cooper is an up-and-coming rapper from Brooklyn. I wrote about his song 'Kung Foo' last week - a sudden open-palm strike to the chin filled with raw beats and raw rhymes. It was genuinely exciting to hear from a rapper who wasn't just new, but also good. He had a mixtape, Cozmik on the way at the time and now, since 28th June, it's out online and available to download for free.

It's a tricky one to tackle because it feels as though it should have been two separate releases under two separate names by two separate artists. But maybe that's just me.

On one hand you have revitalisation of a retro rap sound that looks back to its roots in old-school hip hop. These songs go to town on samples, live-sounding instruments, and reality-check beats that seem to put extra swagger into Dillon's bars. You have the straight-talking 'State Of Elevation', complete with the crackling thunder of a double-bass, whose chorus gives a catchy break to a stream-of-consciousness-style rap. A similar catchiness lies in the choruses of 'Every Day Life' - perhaps my favourite song on the album - which is like a time machine back to 90s rap. The sounds in this song are totally chilled, verging on lounge-bar music, and the lyrics are a happy blur of clever phrases.

It's the same story with 'I Ain't Havin' It' and 'Survival Of The Fittest', except these two are brimming with body-shaking bass. A more minimalist sound can be heard in 'You Don't Know Me', whose beautiful piano ditty accompanies what could easily be the best beat on the album, a live drum kit pounds an off-kilter rhythm with little accents on the rattling snare. Beautiful stuff.

On the other hand, you have the newer-sounding tracks, starting at 'Put It To Rest' and finishing at 'Fuck That'. These are unfortunately a little bit unmemorable. Not only does the music fall flat in comparison to the lush sampling work on songs like 'Yes Suh' and especially in the R&B-tinged 'Off With Their Heads', but for some reason his voice doesn't shine out like it does on pretty much all of the first half of the album.

Perhaps this means there's just a darker side of DC that I'm not really fond of, or maybe the second half is just not as good, but it certainly splits this mixtape into two rather distinct parts: old and new. You might like 'Warning Shots', combining the often-dark sound of London grime with dirty Southern beats, in which DC revels in rapid-fire vocals, punctuated with deep sub bass kicks, like in the rumbling 'Fuck That'. I just think that the more badman sound of these tracks brings out a different Dillon who doesn't seem as genuine.

What's quite cool is that the whole of Cozmik is twisted at both ends like a nicely wrapped sweet with the resounding piano chords of 'Intro' and 'Outro', both seeming at least to be genuinely heartfelt. In fact, when I arrived at the 'Outro' it was like slipping into a pair of comfortable shoes. That same feeling y'know? Those piano chords come back, rich in tone and giving such a soulful backdrop, Dillon's voice serious and fixed absolutely on his words, and I felt suddenly that every song on the album should have been dipped in this nostalgic reality. It's where his voice - his most important asset - sounds best.

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