How to get high off music; a mixtape review

August 13, 2010

Dan “DK” Kozerski just doesn’t take himself as seriously as he should. The country club emcee—who is valiantly fighting to give rappers who wear sweater vests a good name—dropped his sophomore mixtape, From The Outside In, on August 7. The 12-track project mixes DK’s unorthodox voice, unorthodox instrumentals and unorthodox song topics for an easy listening, must-download tape.

Now, the key is just getting him to realize it.

The DePaul University sophomore scatters shoutouts to his Northville High School clique throughout the project, spitting how they “kick it on Beck, hit a party on Sheldon” and describing their secondary school lunch schedule. While that shit flew on DK’s first mixtape, Music Is My High, which built a cult-like following in the rap Mecca that is Northville, it doesn’t here. From The Outside In got over 1000 downloads in less than 24 hours, something DK needs to understand.

The 19-year-old is better than that, and the rest of the mixtape proves it.

“Love My Life” makes you want to plop a lawn chair in your front yard and suck down a few (ten?) PBR’s. DK combines slow-moving brass instrumentals with smart rhymes to send listeners a message: “Yeah I tried weed, I had to feel the feeling/Turns out you just hit McDonald’s up to the damn ceiling/Music’s still my high, yeah that’s my first love/I still do it for the fans I’m never above.”

DK doesn’t have a typical rapper’s voice—which takes its toll on some of his hooks—and shows hints of a lisp at times. But his choice of instrumentals complements his unusual tone perfectly. He’s one of the few emcees who can spit over blues, jazz, reggae and funk beats, as heard in “Someday,” in which he displays an uncanny ability for assonance: “Slow it down with me, sit around with me/ Pour a round with me and just clown with me.”

From the Outside In is the type of music that suburban kids aren’t afraid of bumping to when they drive. It’s a type of hip hop that metro Detroit hasn’t seen much of. It’s happier, catchier and focused more on sharp lyricism rather than aggressive beats. DK uses complex rhyme schemes in “One Way” and “No Half Steppin” from which most emcees would shy away, giving both songs a fresh, energized feel.

But that’s not to say that there’s not variety on the tape. Similar to when DK went into attack mode in his previous tape’s “Dear Psychiatrist,” he spits ninety seconds of fire over an antagonistic piano line in “Cypher.” He also offers up a serviceable dance track, “I’m Hip-Hop,” the lone song on the tape featuring an electronic beat.

Unlike DK’s freshman tape, which featured the popular track “He Crazy,” From The Outside In doesn’t have a bona fide hit. In spite of that—and the project’s other small shortcomings—the young emcee made a killer tape. Its combination of unconventional elements produces a clean, unique brand of hip hop, the type of music to which you should be listening as summer draws to a close.

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