With 57K streams and counting with House Of Mirrors, Dapo is officially on the underground radar! Nothing left to do but an album review (I rhymed purposely).
Let’s just get the “bad” stuff out of the way: Dapo House Of Mirrors is not for everybody.
Production choices make the album feel more Alternative or Emo Pop than an Hip-Hop album for most of the project’s 44:10 runtime. Dapo has a propensity for big sounding hooks over anti-boom bap instrumentals. Also, autotune and reverb are overused in the mix of every track that could potentially accomplish what Dapo is looking to! It’s like Travis Scott at a makeshift studio.
Dapo’s delivery leaves much to be desired. It always feels uphill. Like he’s actually battling the beat he’s chosen to lay his vocals over, and losing. Most of the tracks here would fit perfectly over any movie trailer themed in overcoming adversity. Very motivational, but at 14 cuts long, it feels a bit cheesy. Lastly, it has like 6-too-many features.
With all of that being said, there are a few brightspots and clear prospective energy.
The album starts with possibly one of the best introduction tracks of all-time; with voice-over’s, some quality crooning by lil kyo XR, smooth beat transitions and ambitious rhymes. By the time Dapo’s vocals entered on the last leg of the track, bases were loaded and he brought it home.
“Best In The World” follows this trajectory, sporting House Of Mirrors best chorus. Lines like “You not good at math, so why say we even” can even be overlooked in this context. “Game Has Changed” is a standout for its context. Plenty of artists feel they are pulled in too many directions, pressured more to go viral than make timeless music. The latter aforementioned track sees Dapo’s best and most focused verse.
“Nice Guy” has our hero changing pitches. “Get used to the new me“, he utters at the tail-end of the hook. It’s true as it pertains to the album, also. This is the Long Island emcee’s most aggressive track and it suits him well. On “One Hundred“, production (producer unlisted) sounds like it features the same sample as 2005’s classic “Still Tippin” (I’m open to being wrong). T-Time delivers the best feature verse on HOM. His poise here is something Dapo could add to his arsenal.
Minus the horrible mixing on “Blessings“, the song is actually beautiful. If Kanye were to hear come across it somehow, it could easily end up on some volume of DONDA. Lyrics like “As long as I pray, I’mma be alright” are simple but effective. Similar sentiments for “Blink Of An Eye“, which ends our 14-track journey.
If you were strip down some of the sonic choices, take away a few features and listen House Of Mirrors bear, you would find a great idea with rough execution. Dapo seems torn between a “real Hip-Hop” spirit and sounds that go beyond the spectrum. Between a God-first approach and an eat every rapper mentality. This is the same exact folly Kanye West made for the previously referenced DONDA album.
It’s hard to live in so many worlds and come off as focused, but Dapo has a tremendous upside. If he can choose a path, and work it, his base will find him and he won’t have to play to anyone.