Album: Respect To The Authors
Label: Exile On Mainstream Records
Genre: Experimental Hip-Hop / Post-Metal / Drone
Country: United States
Release Date: March 22nd, 2019
Dälek is legendary. This group has been breaking ground in the experimental hip-hop scene for over two decades. Without their work, I firmly believe most of my favorite rap groups and artists would not be around today. I was delighted to have the chance to review such an important group’s new music, but I made sure to not let my bias towards Dälek influence my thoughts on this EP.
This record is fascinating to me, and its presentation is unique from most other rap albums I’ve heard in recent years. The instrumentals are definitely experimental, but they aren’t as abrasive as one would expect. Instead of noisy and industrial sounds, Dälek fills this project with drones. While they’ve been doing this for a few years, it feels different this time around. The drones on this project are incredibly cold and have a post-metal sound. Often, the vocals are placed far behind them making most of the tracks feel massive and isolated.
The intro is the most aggressive musically and shifts between more industrial sections when MC Dälek is rapping and softer post-metal portions. With These Mics has a beautiful, sample-driven drone that changes in volume as the track goes on. It’s an interestingly bright sound on a track that is not at all bright lyrically. Molten is the only song where the vocals are at the forefront. Still, it does have some haunting samples that accent a more typical hip-hop instrumental. Defiant would truthfully just be a decent post-metal song if it didn’t have vocals, but the fact that they are there makes the song a more compelling listen for sure. While Words Connect lacks a substantial drone, Seek Harbor closes the record off with a terrifying one that leaves me feeling pretty anxious for a few minutes after hearing it. Truthfully, there isn’t a single track on this EP that doesn’t have a solid sound for its entire length.
This project deals in themes that are common to most conscious hip-hop releases: social and political turmoil, the tragedy of widespread violence, and the importance of staying true to one’s message. The vocals from MC Dälek are passionate, angry, and reflect a very clear frustration with the world he’s living in. However, the fact that they are often buried in the mix keeps this EP from being an angry sounding record. Instead, these songs feel noticeably sad and exhausted. Dälek doesn’t sound like they want a revolution here, but that they just want a break. Molten expresses this feeling very well with the declaration on the refrain of “I’m tired, motherfucker I told you I’m done hoping.” Defiant is a meditation on the ails of society, while admitting that no one will probably listen to the messages being discussed. Words Connect presents a similar idea, but more focused on the fleeting nature of youth and communication. The spoken word passage on Seek Harbor is lonely and hopeless, and closes the EP on an honest, but difficult note. It’s clear that Dälek doesn’t feel like sugar coating anything on this project and wants their listeners to really feel the same emotions that they’re feeling.
This EP is short but effective. Dälek takes a message that typically invokes emotions of active anger and uses a unique musical angle to invoke feelings of exhausted sadness instead. The usages of a distinct drone and post-metal sound completely reframe the content on the EP. As a result, this project forces true emotions, and it’s a nice change of pace to hear. I think this project is fantastic and acts as a testament to the importance of confronting how difficult life can get.
- Respect to the Authors
- With These Mics
- Worlds Connect
- Seek Harbor
Total Playing Time: 29:06