Mixtape Review-Doll Szn by Asian Doll
The intro track (Doll Szn Intro) on the mixtape Doll Szn does a spectacular job establishing who Asian Doll is for anyone coming late to the party. Immediately after you press play she vents and tears away the preconceptions you may bring to this music. She knows a large portion of sour folks are sucking their teeth muttering “She sounds like Nicki…” as if that is an adequate insult. In a minute and thirty five seconds she tears all of that away, distancing herself from the backstabbing rat race female MC’s are put on. Then it is time for the music.
Queen of Nightmares is a sparse piano beat she absolutely demolishes before and after the beat beefs up and the bassline tramples in. She goes in for two minutes straight before you realize this has no hook. She catches bodies like she’s been working out and gets a dudes beard off her dress. If you’ve never heard Asian Doll before and want to know if she can really spit, track 2 resolves that. When she uses her voice for singing it works out very well. Her chorus on Lose You is well done and never interferes with her bars.
I’ve listened to Doll Szn every day for a week and never got tired of it. The track sequencing is right on the money. After the sing-rap-single feeling Lose You, track 5 is Clout which could be a more rave friendly Three Six Mafia song. Doll has a modern flow that bounces melodically but she has gears and can move at different speeds. The harder the beat smashes the more electricity crackles out of her on every bar. Arm Froze is positively fantastic with a hook that sticks and a vocal performance in the verses that moves as effortlessly and impressively as the chorus.
My favorite single line in Doll Szn (and verse) is the very beginning of Miami as the Cash Money Mannie Fresh pacing of the beat pushes her she says “ever seen a real B*%^ that rub your nuts and hold a Mac clip?!” The mental image is one my brain had never conjured before and whenever that happens no matter the subject matter you have to give credit where credit is due. MC’s are not scientists they are entertainers so their goal is to remain important all the time. From the more radio friendly stuff like Lay Up to the very last song she is vitally important. That last song is called Savage Barbie and it is one of the very best of 2018. The beat radiates beneath her and she rides it with unruffled resolve. This is her sixth mixtape so you might be assuming she should have already marshalled her talents with this level of poise but that is not how it works. Ask Charles Hamilton. In a year of very unimpressive mixtapes Doll Szn stands out as a rock solid calling card from someone who just wants to work and get better so when she gets a chance for the whole world to look she’ll be a thousand percent ready.
Stream or download Doll Szn below:
#Bandcampgold-Fuel City by The Outfit, TX
Pressing play on Fuel City by Dallas rap group The Outfit, TX is like discovering Three 6 Mafia for the first time. That is not to say they are doing Three 6, this just has the permissive energy of the best crunk you can think of. I love the beginning of Goin’ Up where the opening verse surges into yelling that takes on a three part shout harmony for the chorus. The Outfit, TX are masters in the art of high and low, whenever they start calm they lull you into a false sense of security they explode out from. They have brilliant songs where they turn all the way up (the first three songs: Big Splash, Phone Line, and Goin’ Up) but they are contrasted by whispery low key effortless swagger (Insumnia) and gorgeous middle ground sounds where the song does a hard bop while they maintain a heightened agitated cool (Dez Bryant, Look Crazy). The last similar group this good at flicking the tempo switch up and down to this extreme was Ying Yang Twins and it’s a favorable comparison. Ying Yang twins were one of those authentically dexterous groups, confident in who they were and so unified in talent you never sat back and thought either of them killed one the other on a track, their verses hung together and formed a real themed work(even when the themes were very closely aligned).
Fuel City is one hundred percent smash hits which is why it is only ten songs. They know better than to wear you out. As ferocious, jarring & scary as Told That Bih is on first listen the song before that is a melodic sex brag mutter so minimal (Outta Control) by contrast you can see the authorship in the ordering of songs. It took years and years of work to get things running this tight. Living in Maine I didn’t know of them until Killer Mike demanded people check them out in an interview. Ever since then I’ve been watching them sharpen their swords in hopes of getting to this level. When you hear the warning that ends the final track (Really Off) lambast the listener for sleeping on them (“I’m a give myself and my N’s our flowers on our own s__t and let you listen to it B#$%* @$$ N_ I ain’t waiting on you N’s applause no mo'” It sounds mad extra but he’s right. In the case of a group with the powerful melodic energy of The Outfix, TX ignoring them has grown them to unimaginable levels. As I listen to Look Crazy for the thousandth time I can’t help but think about the first time I heard their name and thought “that name is dumb” they’ve been making me pay ever since by making songs so inescapably catchy and lyrically throttling I can’t get away from them. In the outro the warning accuses us of making monsters and in a rap world full of junkies and exuberant social media warriors maybe a few monsters are what we need.
Stream or download Fuel City below: