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Relaxer - Coconut Grove Music Album Reviews

Relaxer - Coconut Grove Music Album Reviews After years of kicking against dance music’s strictures, Daniel Martin-McCormick delivers something close to a pure techno album. A product of turmoil, it’s a satisfyingly confident statement.
Daniel Martin-McCormick’s past always seems to dominate the conversation about his present. No matter how many new groups he’s formed or new aliases he’s tried on for size, his music continues to be evaluated through the lens of his earliest projects. Since 2002, Martin-McCormick has logged lengthy stints in groups like Black Eyes and Mi Ami and recorded solo as Sex Worker and Ital. (Full disclosure: he’s also an occasional contributor to Pitchfork.) Launched in 2016 with a series of five self-released EPs, Relaxer is the New York producer’s latest undertaking, and his new album, Coconut Grove, potentially represents a final, complete break from his noisy post-hardcore roots.



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DaBaby - KIRK Music Album Reviews

DaBaby - KIRK Music Album Reviews
The Charlotte, North Carolina rapper's debut finds him in his sweet spot—which is to say, demolition mode.

DaBaby hasn’t turned down a check since the Fourth of July. On that night, Dreamville debuted “Under the Sun,” a record that features the Charlotte, North Carolina rapper sounding like a local drug dealer that found God. Since that moment, nearly every pop-rap hit has gotten the DaBaby touch. This summer alone, the 27-year-old landed on tracks from Chance The Rapper, Lizzo, Lil Nas X, and Post Malone. In return, DaBaby, who a year ago was stuck in regional-rap-star purgatory, has become one of rap’s most visible stars.

With that visibility has come slight DaBaby fatigue; constant exposure to his breathless, high-energy flow will do that. Beginning with March’s Baby on Baby, DaBaby has flooded the internet with different iterations of the same song—you know the one. But it’s important that we note: DaBaby is really good at making that one song.

In DaBaby’s six months or so as a pop-culture figure, one thing that we know for sure is that he likes to rap. Like, really rap. He’s not spitting traditional lyrical-miracle 16s, but he is joyfully filling up every inch of available space, and on KIRK, R&B hooks and sing-rap harmonies are an afterthought. His rapping is relentless, and he doesn’t ride a beat so much as he steamrolls it.

KIRK offers some moments of unexpected depth. On “Intro,” he reveals that he learned “Suge” went No. 1 on Billboard’s mainstream R&B/hip-hop charts the same day he learned of his father’s sudden death. “Same time I got the news, my shit went number one, that’s fucked up,” he says, over a warm instrumental that sounds like it was made in a hip church’s Sunday school. For the first time, he effectively works an emotion besides “I will punch you in the face” into his formula, and it fits him surprisingly well.

DaBaby doesn’t stay in the reflective mindstate for long, though. After he pays respects to his father and comes to terms with his own trauma, he’s back making the sort of music that I imagine plays in his head while he punches a showgoer mid-bar and throws hands at the mall. On “Off The Rip,” DaBaby raps about eating at a restaurant with his kids and mother with the same chaotic spirit he brings to verses about robbing local drug dealers. DaBaby is self-aware, which goes a long way in hip-hop. He goes in over bass-heavy beats that are similar, but not the same, most notably from homegrown Carolina producer Jetsonmade. “Straight off the rip, you know I don’t wait for the drop,” he says, commenting on his penchant for rapping at the 0:01 timestamp.

KIRK’s momentum is disrupted by the number of guests that can’t hang with DaBaby (See: Nicki Minaj and Migos). DaBaby’s similarly anarchic long-time partner Stunna 4 Vegas and Kevin Gates are the lone guests that sound at home—which makes sense considering that Gates’ deadpan delivery has probably influenced DaBaby. But much of KIRK is DaBaby in his sweet spot: alone and rapping with the untamed aggression of a tasmanian devil, on a beat that could destroy a 2001 Toyota Corolla from the inside out if played too loud. Change is overrated.

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