Mixtape Review-Keys of Heaven by Al Doe
An artist’s sound betrays his or her intentions. You can listen to the very first B.O.B. mixtape and know he was meant to be on every radio (that’s not an insult either). The opposite of that B.O.B. listening is Al Doe. No one hearing the dogs and the church bells on Nightmare on Dope Street could picture the song that follows playing behind a car commercial. His verses are clipped barks “Ha! Backing out bout to do ‘em dirty…I ain’t coppin’ out and if I lose trial I ain’t doing thirty! (Nightmare on Dope Street)” Out of the seven tracks that Keys of Heaven consist of Crystal Gaines produces three (Nightmare on Dope Street, La Botanica, and Kings Only) and the two have a great rapport. Gaines seems to perceive perfectly the balance between minimalism and light innovative touches.
Keys of Heaven never reaches for an all out banger but it also never loses its tempo or drifts. Not only that but it includes the line “Recorded this in my Pope hat, stop asking me where that dope at…” utilized as a verse starter twice on La Botanica. Tree Mason also starts his verse on the track with “recorded this in my monk suit…”so regardless of how dark the content is you know everyone is having fun. Call it a horror movie on record or a hip hop version of The Stooges Funhouse album but if you get shocked or disgusted you know Doe got you.
On Nowhere Island he peels off like a snake skin stewing in paranoia and self-hatred. I should backtrack; this project is not his “dark” experiment. This is his sound. Along with others like Nym Lo a small cluster of NY rappers give us sonic haunted houses to explore. If you call it Trap you can do that. It’s all drug related music but it’s not glamorous or goofy. I would ask if you have to call it trap (and we need to stop calling everything trap) call it Horror Trap. Since in most ways its more connected to the Gravediggaz than Gucci Mane.
Stream or Download Keys of Heaven below: