Hood Country Club
(Mean As Music)
In this country, USA, it’s rare that another country’s MC impacts us. Whether that’s due to ignorance or xenophobia or just that other countries MCs can’t touch us, the fact remains. David Dallas is “from a land more known for the sheep than the beats”, New Zealand. So while I can name a few European MCs, and Japan is prominently known for its hip hop adoration, I must admit, I can’t name one New Zealand MC. But now I can. And he is impressive.
Hood Country Club is Dallas’ fourth full-length studio album. 2013’s LP Falling Into Place turned heads and won awards. Dallas took his time with the follow up, plus was touring heavily off of that. Combining modern electro and strong trip hop influences while still cultivating sparse elements from boom bap. The album is electro lush, the title track is painfully slow. But at its best, Hood Country Club is catchy, seductive even. This Is It is a somber jazzy track with an organic piano roll. The track, which boasts that live piano, mixed with muted girl’s singing, creates a dreamy and laid back atmosphere. Dallas spits about living in the moment, reviewing his trials and journey. The spattering snare pushes the track.
Dallas’ attitude is often reticent; confident but not arrogant. He depicts many narratives which illustrate him playing the background and observing. Dallas never refrains from his criticism of materialism; reaching for fame without quality being the motivation. Dallas is a storyteller, but occasionally flashes some bars, as on “Get Off”: “don’t talk shit, what would you know? / Push you out our circle like sumo”. Dallas shines lyrically as he spits his own story. His introspection and open dialogue is refreshing. I admire Dallas’ honest lyrics, vulnerable to criticism from materialistic oriented rappers of modern trappings. My favorite example peaks in “Don’t Rate That”; a brash condemnation of commercialism.
“Wish that I could aim at these finance companies in the hood
Posing like they doing something good
Fuck outta here/ Always putting more brown people on the ads
Knowing damn well they tryna trick us out of cash
Sports stars front the campaigns, ain’t it sad
Really selling out, do they understand?”
The production envelopes the listener throughout the album. The great accomplishment of Hood Country Club is Dallas’ cultivating beats from different producers while maintaining a consistent feel throughout the LP. The common thread of emotion pulls these tracks into a cohesive product. The bass in “Don’t Flinch”, I have to say, showcases that smooth synth feel and the whiny pitch bend, definitely echoes of Warren G G-Funk sound; but it is more influence that emulating. “Can’t Get Enough” is a welcome departure in tone, it’s dark. The sound is comprised of looming keys with some tough snares. The lower notes evoke a slight paranoia and a foreboding feeling in the track. Dallas’ more aggressive spitting fits well, and shows a durability. A smoky organ is a cool feel on “Cheap Seat”. There are a few skips for me; the multi featured “Are You Down”; feels like an RnB song. The last track doesn’t do much for me. But with 12 tracks there is plenty of content to embrace.
David Dallas has toured with Eminem and Run The Jewels; and collabo’d with Buckshot and Freddie Gibbs on his 2011, Duck Down released, The Rose Tint. Gibbs returned for a guest spot on Dallas’ 2013 album as well. Hood Country Club was recorded at Red Bull Studios. The album includes production from Styalz Fuego, Nic M, SmokeyGotBeatz and Fire & Ice.Dallas acknowledges being inspired by UK two-step and Trip-hop, to nostalgic samples over boom-bap drums; a good representation of this is “Ring A Bell”.
“I put it all into this one. I don’t really feel like being build ups – I’ll just say this record took time because it needed to, I’m proud of it, and I’ll be happy when everyone gets to hear it.” – David Dallas
David Dallas has since gone on to win New Zealand music awards for Best Hip Hop Album and Best Male Artist, and achieve platinum status with his hit single “Runnin,” from his critically acclaimed 2013 album Falling Into Place.
RIYL: Oddissee, Fashawn, RTJ, ONC, Freddie Gibbs