16dolo is a 22 year old artist and rapper hailing from Dallas, Texas. After releasing six EPs over the past six years, 16dolo is back with his first ever album!
This week I will be reviewing his latest album titled COVERED THE CEILING IN STARS., which was intentionally released earlier this year on his birthday, May 30th. The project itself consists of ten tracks and is approximately a 28 minute listen.
"I’m more than proud to make this my first full length project with more fleshed out ideas & sounds that I think is needed in the community today. if nobody else will, trust that the white boy gon' bring that shit every. single. time." -16dolo
In short, this album has a sort of lo-fi and jazz feel, which is an amazing combination of genres that is complimented by his sultry voice and serious tone as well as crazy wordplay and storytelling! The use of samples also helped to set the atmosphere of the project beautifully. The one thing that I enjoyed the most was the seamlessness of this listening experience. His tone and flow changes gradually per song, literally as if he is putting all of his emotions into telling his story. This album has been out for a little over two months now, and it really is growing into a timeless listen!
Keep reading to hear more about my breakdown and analysis of each song as well as some more words from 16dolo himself!
Vy: What was the inspiration behind this project, and what message did you want to give listeners?
16dolo: Inspiration wise, I think this project is heavily influenced by the theme of closure & evolution of one’s self & my sound overall. I covered my ceiling in stars because I literally couldn’t wait to reach for them. So I brought them closer. However, in that forms a double entendre.
When you think of a Cullinan (Rolls Royce) you think of the stars on the ceiling. it’s kind of like the epitome of the highest place in rap you can think of. Sitting in the RR with the stars above you. so It’s a message that I’m pulling my dreams towards me. I’m materializing that, & because of all the work I’ve done, this is why I felt like doing so.
100 RACKS IN ALL DUBS starts off the listening experience with a nostalgic 2000s feel, almost like it's from a mixtape. This is an amazing introduction song that is laidback all around, which helps to ease listeners in. The beat utilizes samples which take the lead while the rest of the beat is relatively simple and empty. This allows for 16dolo's slow and melodic flow to carry the song, and his chilled out tone lets you hear every single line. This is definitely one you have to listen to multiple times to get it. Don't let the lyrics go over your head because his lyricism is just getting warmed up!
"You can come to where I live / That ain't even where I stay.”
The intro to JEEZY ON REPEAT is so groovy! The electric keyboard and 808s are so clean and mesh together to carry the beat beautifully, with a hint of strings in the background to add that otherworldly feel. Lyrically, 16dolo's wordplay is insane! His lyricism has upgraded drastically since my last time listening, and I can tell he is more confident with these complex lyrics and references. The way he commands his flow by constantly speeding it up and slowing it down is heavenly. 16dolo is literally floating over this song, and his ad-libs were the cherry on top! I also really enjoyed the way the instrumental plays out at the end. It really elevates this song to a listening experience, allowing for the audience to enjoy the beat as well as the lyrics.
"If we talkin' computers, I’m getting the Mac.”
Continuing on, the beats are all very jazzy so far! PULL UP is no different, and the saxophone on this one says it all. The beat is an overall chill vibe, but the bass adds a good cadence to bop your head to. Even though the beat is relatively simple, 16dolo's bars and flow just keep getting more and more complex with each song. His tone is hard-hitting and confident, and his enunciation was crisp in this one.
After some hard hitters, S CARROLL BLVD. provides a great contrast as it is more upbeat and happy lyrically. The beat is slow while still maintaining that jazz and soul feel. This just feels like a reminiscent victory song to me -- like the ones that play at the end of a movie! My favorite part was the way he ended his verse and how it seamlessly flowed into the breakdown of the song. Overall just an insane initial listening experience.
Vy: Describe your album in one sentence!
16dolo: To describe this project in a singular sentence is very hard. Right off the top, this project from start to end is nothing but that triple d shit, cruising on 35 with a blunt type shit, roll up, & let me take you to this place.
16dolo sure knows how to ride a beat, but he does a complete 180 in GOOD GRIEF !. The beat is extremely simple and groovy, yet 16dolo manages to create his own flow in this one as there is no heavy percussion to act as a cushion. To me, this feels like the perfect interlude song -- just cruising down 35! It's a very simple track with serious lyrics that will pass you by if you don’t listen closely. If people had to listen to one song first, I would say GOOD GRIEF ! because it is an easy and gentle listening experience on the ears.
"I’m writing shit again / I mean I’ll fight the shit again.”
We've reached our halfway point! ON THE WAY has to be one of my favorite songs so far, simply because of the way it makes me feel. The buildup between the beat and his flow was otherworldly. Other songs were mellow, sultry, or serious. This song is a complete vibe switch and is such an easy listen! He was on his hot shit with this one, and his good energy can be felt through his tone. I enjoyed the drums in this one as well because it added a great depth to the rhythm and overall feel.
"Okay I pulled up / Lemon pepper wings.”
It's time to slow it down again. After a higher energy fast paced song, ELBOWS ON THE DASH is a more simple song with clashing piano keys that create this amazing minor ambiance because of the dissonance. His flow is slow and clear, allowing for you to hear each and every line. This song is definitely a more refined and complex listen for the audience.
Vy: What does this album mean to you, both personally and as an artist?
16dolo: The title track COVERED THE CEILING IN STARS most encapsulates the thesis I had for this project -- Which is why I made it the outro. This project is an update to my sound overall, and it was the last bit of work I made with people I’ve had to cut off. It was a release of energy and a rebirth into who I’m really meant to be in this music shit. I really did find myself among so much bullshit, which is why the songs have such a diverse feel to them -- But all of them still thematically correlate to my message.
Beat wise, MY GAME GREEN BUT MY MONEY BLUE (Slowed) has to be my favorite song off this project. The way the saxophone in the background flows over the notes is so groovy, and the drums and bass bring it all together! I listened to the regular version for comparison, and I think the slowed version makes it sound even more elegant and complex because you can hear every instrument. The cadence is just different too. The lyrics and flow were chilled out and complimented the song perfectly. I think this song will be the most popular among casual listeners because of the catchy hook and overall sound, but I was personally in love with the beat the most.
We're nearing the end, and 16dolo is just talking his shit on SUNSHINE. This is artistry at its finest. The storytelling is unmatched! I always love when a song gradually builds up, and this is definitely added to that list. The first half of the song was freestyle like and conversational, followed by crazy bars and an “i’m done” before the vibe switch. The second half came in bass heavy and 16dolo came in hot and confident! I think this song demonstrates the versatility of 16dolo the best -- He can do it clean and simple but he can break it down for you too! Overall, this song was arranged perfectly and that second verse was insane!
Vy: If the audience could only listen to one song off the album, which would it be and why?
16dolo: Each song explores a different aspect, but if I did have to pick one song, it would have to be the outro (COVERED THE CEILING IN STARS). If you wanted to see me in one of my most raw forms, then listen to that. Study it. Analyze it. You will literally see & feel the passion and love that went into this project.
COVERED THE CEILING IN STARS is the perfect song to end this album off. The beat is so reminiscent, and I love a good sample! It takes a lot of skill for a rapper to simply speak over such an empty beat like this. Like, there is literally no percussion in this song and he singlehandedly turned this into a motivational and revolutionary listen just by using his words and feeling! He made sure that he said everything he had to say in this last song, and my jaw was dropped! I can see why this is 16dolo's personal listening recommendation. He's just narrating his life, and I could feel that he was being his most true, vulnerable, and authentic self in this last song.
"This shit ain’t sweet, but I made it lemonade.”
After listening to this project for a couple weeks, I am amazed by the cohesiveness and seamlessness of this project. Some songs are beat centered while some are focused on the lyricism. Rather than being overpowered, each component comes together to transport you to this specific time and place. The integration of samples and the clean mixing helped to refine this album even more. Whoever mastered this album did their thing because the vision was delivered!
One major thing I've noticed is that I really enjoy 16dolo's lyricism and the way he manages to make his lines so diverse. Some bars are clever and witty, while some are blunt and serious. Regardless of what he's rapping about, the delivery of it always floats over the song because of his smooth voice and immaculate flow. I appreciate how he switches up his delivery and personality in every song. His little "okay okay" adlib was the subtle glue of this whole project too. Such a multi-faceted artist and a refreshing listen in the music scene!
Vy: Are there any last words you'd like to tell the audience?
"This project is a part of the greatest story never told. I covered the ceiling in stars so that my dreams would be more attainable. I made this project to convey that energy & sentiment to anyone who would give me the time of day." -16dolo
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