So it’s finally out. Yes, the debut album made up of my favorite original songs to this point. The struggle to get to this point was ridiculous. All the struggles of trying to put out music for years and years and being dissatisfied with the quality of my work and scrapping it to try again and again. It’s interesting, I got into rap because I like the art of rapping. I didn’t really comprehend how rapping would be the easiest part of being a rapper. Then the challenge became putting together complete songs that were truly appealing. Then once I started getting the hang of that, the next challenge was getting tracks recorded right and mixed right. Then of course, last and equally as important and more time consuming than the rest, is the marketing and selling of the project. In each of those I’m still growing but I finally have something out that is all original music and a good starting place for me. All this was going through my head while putting it together so the title of Origin stayed with me as I felt that this was my introduction to the “real” world of music.
The main goal for this album was to show a level or versatility and after each song simply say, “okay I’m done with that rapper, look what I’m on now.” Because of this it isn’t the most cohesive album as the subject matter goes many different directions as well as the production before it but it wasn’t meant to be. I think of myself as a complicated person with many different sides and facets to me and many of which are worth exploring within music to give a broader sense of who I am and what I do. I truly feel like every song truly stands out and you get a large repertoire in what I can do within a few songs.
I would say the main inspirations for the album as a whole comes from 2pac’s All Eyez on Me, Nas’ I am, Sticky Fingaz’s Blacktrash, and Talib Kweli’s Quality and Beautiful Struggle. Not song for song or with total vibe but just on the idea of making an album where each song felt very distinct and favoring versatility over specializing.
That’s the general idea but let’s break it down by track.
1. The Game Intro
I took the clip of Allen Iverson getting frustrated over reporters asking him about his practice habits as opposed to the game as a metaphor on how I feel about the rap world now. Fans care more about the story behind the artist or behind a song and like artists/songs based on that a lot more than in the past. Nothing wrong with having a cool story behind things but why not show more love to artists that are putting out a more impressive product? Why is the story more important than the art? I really don’t get it and that was how i felt going into my first track All Good Game. The song isn’t meant to be bitter by any means, but it is just saying, “I got game” and you can’t take that away from me. You can bring up other stuff or hate but I rap better than people and I’m going to prove it as I say it.
2. All Good Game
These bars have been my go-to for some time. It’s almost like a theme song for me. I wanted to set the tone from jump that I’m a hip hop head that can really rhyme and although I might mix it up and go some different directions at my core I’m a lyricist that is gonna hit you with slick wordplay bar after bar. Although you may not be hip to some references, the double meanings actually work and are clear. That has always been my issue with a lot of wordplay people rappers. To me, there reference is a reach, not that clever, or don’t really make sense and take a lot pride that mine does. The inspirations for this song come from the songs Halftime and It Aint Hard to Tell off of Nas’ classic album Illmatic. I reference both songs in the lyrics.
I have a little bit of reputation of being the clean rapper because I don’t cuss. A reputation for being a nerd rapper because of the Nitewing #1 mixtape. And I have a rep for being a raw lyricist but many people I come across don’t associate me with making music to dance to or that could be good for the club. I like to get out and have fun too. I don’t chase women in the club anymore but those days aren’t too distant and I wanted to make a song that represented that side of me. The subject matter is really str8 forward. I’m going out having drinks, flirting, and bragging. Nothing to revolutionary in hip hop lol but I am especially proud of the rhyme schemes used in this one as well as the realism of the lyrics. Many of my songs can go into the realm of the abstract and metaphorical for quite some time but this one keeps you into the club while still giving intricate lyrics. I tried to combine worlds in terms of making a song for the fan that don’t pay much attention to lyrics and just want to dance as well as the one that is looking to be impressed.
4. Let Me Be Wit U
So changing gears from the last one, Let Me Be Wit U is one of very few songs I have that truly originated as a poem and was transferred into song format later. The song is about opening up about a crush and telling the person how much I really admire her in hopes that I get a favorable response back. My love/relationship songs tend to come more specifically/directly from exact situations in my life and this was one of them. Although she liked the poem, she didn’t feel the same way about me and we stayed cordial with each other after I put it out there. After a while I went back and re-read it and decided I could really adapt it into a song if tightened up the rhythm and matched syllables per line better. Although a few pieces were removed, overall the song lyrics are very close to the original and serves as my one sappy song on the album. I really don’t like going down the R&B route or love song route too often but its always a topic that will come up and over the years I have found those type of songs never feel dated for me because the topics are so relatable at any time in any age. This one is very wordy, I rapped a bit faster than in most songs and I packed a lot in the verses.
So I finally did a piece that can stir up some feelings. The hard one about this is the world treats everything so black and white. Either you are for something and all these other negative things or you are against something and all these negative things. I had a hard time writing this just because I didn’t want people to misinterpret the message or group me in some exact set a beliefs that fills an exact division. The racial problems in this country go so far behind a single cops decision to shoot or not to shoot its impossible to cover everything in a song. It’s about redlining, its about prisons looking to profit, it’s about being wrongfully accused and serving time for a crime you didn’t commit cuz you ‘look’ like the suspect, its about two people committing the same crime and the punishments being vastly different. It would take me a full album to cover everything I would want to address. However, I did feel passionate that I wanted to say something so the song Targets started.
Ultimately, I still wanted the song to be entertaining and didn’t want to waste my lyrics feeling like I was explaining myself and pointing out details about my exact stances on everything. In the end, I decided to address two different feeling of being black in america. The first verse states some of the main things I see as disturbing or problematic to address how I feel when dealing with cops or the government. The second verse is about doing what we can to improve our situations and break barriers. I don’t like arguing over its all one thing or its all the next thing. The world is more complicated than that. In the end, the poet Nikii Vonn blessed the track with a very fitting poem to close it out. The song isn’t meant to be cute or catchy or any of that, so there is no hook to it. Just rap and poetry.
6. Gray Area
Not too different from Let Me Be Wit U, Gray Area is about a situation with a girl I was interested in that got frustrating for me. We had some interaction, she showed some interest, I showed some interest back, ultimately it never went anywhere and I got frustrated on how she was treating me. Now, this isn’t some ‘well she didn’t like me back and now I hate her’ type of thing. It’s nothing like that it’s ‘don’t play games with me or mislead me.’ Once again, this started as a poem that later transformed into a song. Unlike LMBWU I had to add much more to this one instead of taking things out. Putting this song out was a hard sell to myself. I absolutely love it lyrically but I didn’t want to sound like a punk on it or overly upset so it took me a while to figure out the right tone. It’s easier to just do a song about being so happy, so angry, or so sad but this doesn’t strike a strong emotion in that sense. It’s not an end of the world situation but it is about frustration and disappointment. Although I had these concerns I ultimately felt like there is nothing wrong with doing a relationship song that is a bit left-field because it is still a situation that many people can relate to and even those that can’t they can still appreciate the conversation. I clearly wrote this at a time when I was way more patient with women lol. This song isn’t me now at all but it certainly was me in my younger days and is a classic in my rhymebook I wanted to bring out for the album.
7. Cant Stop Us Now
So Blackpearl really just did this song and I filled in the rest lol. I met her at some open mics and we respected each other’s talents so I invited her to do a track with me. She got a chance to listen to my mixtapes but she didn’t have any released music for me to go off of so she came over and we started creating from scratch. I had hit a point in the album where I just wanted a new energy and style that would challenge me to go in a direction that I wouldn’t have came up with by myself. So I showed her the beats I had and she picked one that she felt would be good for her and I let her put down the first verse and I vibed off that. I also love the back and forth we have on the third verse, this song certainly stands out because of her feature. It’s not as much an in your face bragging as all good game but it has the more subtle abstract chill brag that was a overlap of where our styles could meet. I want to work with her more but she moved to New Orleans making it more difficult. I will definitely be trying to get her on future albums though.
8. Damn Girl
This is the ultimate sleeper song or dark horse song in my catalogue. I didn’t have to pay for the beat since it was done by my older brother Deran. He himself, thought it was a throwaway beat that I wouldn’t be interested in. When I wrote it, I thought it was cool but didn’t think much of it. Then when the Skool Daze mixtape came out, this turned out to be a fan favorite. So I had to bring it back for the album, I added a few things to it and re-released it. Damn Girl is about a booty and enjoying that booty while dancing on it. That’s really it but it turns out that this is something a lot of dudes really cherish and love to hear about so it’s become a dark horse favorite.
9. Chelsea Call (Skit)
The skit represents that up until this point in the album I have been tackling subject matter that is fairly general. Nothing wrong with that but the rest of the album features songs more unique to who Dar-1 is.
10. Unwritten Rules
Once again, a piece that started as a poem and was converted to a song afterward. Unlike most of my pieces this one is not straight forward at all, it takes halfway through the verse to really see what I am rapping about. Ultimately it is about black people that look down on other blacks for being from the suburbs or being apart of things they view as “being white”. It’s something I had to deal with at times growing up and I got frustrated with that label. It’s something that oversimplifies and is misguiding on what it means to be black in america so I clapback at it.
11. Role Playing Games
Nerd Dar-1 finally comes through on the album lol. This song talks about the multiple ideas I have on role playing that my woman could do that I could get excited for. This one was new territory for me because I write more about relationships than sex directly. This song isn’t very sexually graphic but it is detailed on the fantasy women to have a playful session leading up to it. Although not overly explicit, this one isn’t for the kids and you should get a kick out of listening to it. Luvleeh Poeticlocks does what she calls pornetry (poetry that is very sexually graphic) and was the perfect person to ad some ad-libs to the song. I hate to pick favorites but this is probably my favorite one on the album.
12. Soul Searchin
Another track that has been with me for a while and never aged. Soul Searchin is about me fighting depression and getting lost in an abstract world having a conversation with myself. It doubles as a poem just as well and has become a signature piece for me when I’m in the spoken word community. It’s inspired by Nas’ song One Mic where he ends the song with the words “You need some soul searchin the time is now”. In my head I pick up right where that track leaves off and go on a major tangeant about how I feel at a certain frustrating point in my life. The album closes on this note that not all is exactly well with me, but I’m opening up more and there will be more to come going forward.
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