MSQ Review: Issa "No." For Me, dogfuck. But I'm Pretty Sure That's the Point, So Good Job (I Think).
In Hip-Hop's infancy, the techniques and musical patterns themselves were a bold rebellion against convention, not to mention the words coming from marginalized poets on a live microphone. Initially, it was about just keeping a party moving but even that type of early toasting rap takes balls, especially when you're making it up as you go. I don't just mean making up the rhymes as you go, I mean making up the whole damn culture. Styles start somewhere. The first generation really had nothing to draw from. It didn't take long for self-expression beyond shallow party flosses to become a thematic staple in the genre. MCs spoke on their frustrations with society, their sexual exploits, their financial aspirations and a ton of other shit the establishment didn't want to hear from young black men and women. Over the course of about 10 years of Hip-Hop pushing the boundaries sonically, but even more so culturally-- it culminated into 2 Live Crew's ultimate victory over censorship in the Supreme Court beginning in 1989 with their album "Nasty As They Wanna Be," letting future Hip-Hop artists know that their freedom and livelihood couldn't be taken away by their expression. But Uncle Luke and 2 Live Crew didn't know it would be ok! They had to blaze that path. It took balls back then. It really did.
As the technology to record and listen to music has become more accessible and affordable and the world is more "connected," it's ironic and sad that overall content seems to be more and more homogenous. Even though swinging dracos around and slanging/snorting prescription pills and "fuckin on your bitch" are all either illegal, frowned upon, or both-- It really takes no courage and rarely shows creativity when that's what you constantly resort to on the mic in 2021. We've literally seen/heard that shit thousands of times and we'll see and hear it thousands more. It doesn't take any balls to be a rapper anymore.
I say all that to say this. dogfuck is at the very least an EXTREMELY courageous MC.
You can tell by their moniker, they aren't looking to appeal to the masses. One could pretty safely assume this artist is going for "shocking" in a time when no one is shocked by anything. It may be difficult for some to call dogfuck an MC, as I did a second ago, because #1 they're pretty overtly outside of the box. With their expressed sexual preferences, fashion sense, and just everything... dogfuck doesn't fit any mold of what an MC is supposed to come off as. Even in 2021, a lot of people in Hip-Hop are slow to progress with inclusion and tolerance. Its a sad oxymoron for a culture founded from oppression and marginalization. But it's also difficult to classify dogfuck as a rapper, because to say this music "bends genres" is putting too much of a label on the music.
I couldn't give you what kind of "___ core" the metal sounds like. I don't know what sub-genre of fuckin dubstep or whatever is going on with some of these soundscapes is technically called. I am an expert on lyrics, voices and thematic narratives --- so I will say this... Dogfuck is like Lil' Peep in his versatility to go from clear Hip-Hop cadences and vibes straight into emo/punk/metal with a heavy overtone of drug use, depression, sex, and existential dread. Dogfuck is NOT like Lil' Peep though, because Dogfuck's rhymes schemes are complex and multi-syllabic and often come across with a Childish Gambino-like conversational flow, and at times could even be described as light. Anyone familiar with the legendary indie rap act, Atmosphere may also take away hints of a similar organized lyrical chaos.
I'm not gonna do a conventional review of "No." and go song-for-song and pull quotes from some of these wild ass bars (Although I will confess my favorite song on the project is "Depression Jokes"--its like Bo Burnham meets XXXtentacion or something-- its crazy). I think for an artist that is rooting so much of their recorded art in a form of provocative performance art --- from the stage name, to the imagery, to the quotes---- dogfuck is going for shocking; and I think its important that I offer as few spoilers as possible. I will say bluntly though, that while I probably will never re-listen to "No."; at 28 minutes long, I am glad that I did. And I would advise you to as well.
I'm a relatively straight-laced 32 year old man with 3 kids and a boring 9 to 5. It was pretty hard for me to relate with Dogfuck's descriptions of the SPECIFICS of their life, but GENERALLY it was not hard to relate to the feelings dogfuck was relaying. We all struggle with identifying our purpose and softening --or at least clarifying-- our perceptions of ourselves. Its wise not to take yourself too seriously, and its wise not to be a complete fucking joke all the time. If DF is guilty of anything its the latter, but the balance with that on "No." is better than it seems at first glance. There is a lot of high-level thinking and poignant self-reflection across this album.
Both the sound and the intentionally shocking thematic elements of this album disagree with me pretty vigorously, hence the title of the review. But that certainly does not mean it is without merit. Again, I don't know what genre this is --but whatever it is-- it's quite well done. There are thousands and maybe even millions of people who would have this album on loop. I'm just not one of them. But I am glad I listened to "No." because I was inspired to see an artist, an MC, take a real artistic chance. Thats hard to come by these days, and I wanna salute dogfuck for the big swing.
I hated it! But I loved that I felt something other than apathy.
by: Zach Kirby