Song Review-Heard Dat by Smoke Dza produced by Harry Fraud
When a sound is described as “nostalgic” no part of that is complimentary. They are inferring that it spins its wheels by replicating an old sound that we all miss and want back without moving at all into the future. It gets tossed around far too much by hip hop hipsters who write for notable tastemaking websites to describe just about anything that doesn’t fit the narrative they have tried to create. Smoke Dza has already gotten that review for his new 9 song project with Harry Fraud He Has Risen and will definitely find it written again. I am likely much more up in arms about it than either of them.
He Has Risen is not the celebrated sound of the day. It is not muddy, depressed, hedonistic, or weird for its own sake. The funny thing: Smoke Dza was considered an oddity at the outset of his career being a Harlem rapper with a very southern delivery and running with Curren$y. Rap has gotten so much weirder that on this album he’s being framed like Joey Bad@$$…as a golden age throwback.
Harry Fraud is a genius. The sharp jazzy influence on Heard Dat never waters down the thickness of the Fraud sound it just swims overtop of it. Amidst the gooey chunks of bass Dza stamps down on every word declared. Dza doesn’t fit into the conscious rapping genius or trap groupings but he snarls and moves the crowd. He’s better on this than on Dream Zone Achieve. Together they give you a nine song bridge leading from Ghostface to Wiz Khalifa, from the era hip hop heads grew up on to the one Kendrick is setting the pace for. The last time these two sounded this good was on 2012’s Rugby Thompson, which for my ears is an off-the-grid classic.
Maybe this sound is underground… if that’s true you should really ask yourself if the difference between underground and the other option is simply having any appreciation for the history of the art. Is any hint of jazz or soul going to push that nostalgia button? Is cold, dead isolation the new popular sound? If that’s the case long live the underground.