Review | Dabbla – Year Of The Monkey

12" Sleev 5mm spine

Out September 9th via High Focus Records

Rating: 8/10

By Bobby McCarty

There’s something inherently funny about Dabbla‘s music; the beats are generally pretty fun, the skits on the album are great, or maybe it’s subtleties like the tiny ‘squeak’ which follows the lyric ‘rosy like your girlfriends farts’, but listening to this had me laughing in public. It’s always nice to find rappers who don’t take themselves too seriously, and comedy plays quite a big part in Hip Hop especially in the UK scene, so it’s no surprise that it works as a ballast on this album offsetting the vibes of the more serious tracks.

There is an omnipresent voice talking for the skits between tracks and though he is a prick, he’s funny and does a great job of identifying Dabbla as a non-conformist by ironically mentoring him over the phone on how to be a successful musician. Not that Dabbla needs a mentor, he is already embedded in the scene having released music previously with LDZ (London Zoo) and more recently with Jam Baxter and Ghosttown as Dead Players, his career seems set to take off if this album is anything to go by.

One of Dabbla‘s strengths is his originality. From flow to lexicon Dabbla is as original as they come in an age where the worst elements of chart fodder have made their way into genres other than pop, progressively flattening the commercial soundscape. Dabbla remains original in the sense that his music isn’t derivative of much at all, but that’s not to say that his influences aren’t there; ‘cheers’ has a definite jungle vibe while the rapping in ‘stupid’ has a pace reminiscent of those early rave MCs who didn’t make it this far for example. His own rave pedigree is something Dabbla boasts in his lyrics, after all he’s no newbie, he’s been on the scene for a while and it’s surely a virtue to have a wide foundation of influences to draw from, and that’s just what he does; these influences are more like flavours once they percolate through to the final cut and aren’t relied upon as a crutch.

‘Randeer’ has a comedic foreign edge and the lyrics play off this, it’s a great choice of track to record a video for and the video is as hilarious as the song itself which is lively and has easily enough bounce and momentum to put a club through its paces – much like many of the tracks on this album which sound like they would be great live. ‘Penis for a day’ is about what you might expect and is a great success in that it is only latently sexist, I mean let’s not get into whether or not having a penis changes your experience of the world and let’s skirt right around the verse about different world foods which resemble cocks; take it with a pinch of salt and consider the possibility of satire.

‘Life line’ is arguably the best track on the album, dropping the pretence of rhyme for most of the distance and focusing on sheer driven storytelling, part autobiography, part prediction. But ‘Get It’ featuring up and comer Ocean Wisdom who is already a powerhouse in the scene despite his youth is also a strong contender.

Overall the album has some great tracks and should earn a place on the playlist of anyone who likes the genre, but in any case, as debut albums go this one is long awaited and so far it hasn’t disappointed.