Album: Dour Candy
Record Label: Blackwoodz Studioz
"Dour Candy" finds Billy Woods more personal but just as vivid, raw and verbose as always
Mysterious Washington DC rapper Billy Woods announced his arrival to many consciousnesses last year with his raw, dark and enlightening project "History Will Absolve Me," but his under- wraps career spans a time period much more vast. Akin to rappers like Aesop Rock, Woods is a man who will have you reaching for a dictionary of references (such is his verbosity), but he also has a raw- as- hell, confrontational nature that finds his work persistently hard- hitting. Bearing all that in mind, "Dour Candy" is a much more exclusive, personal account of both what seem to be his own experiences and those of people who have had holes torn in their lives due to suburban America's biggest vice; Drugs.
The premise of Woods working with a single producer on this album is a challenge that Blockhead willingly and confidently accepts. The tone of his productions work to exhilarating effect to match the subject matter of each individual song. On "Redacted" he entwines a minimal, quietly dubby beat with an eerie, woozy but strangely pretty keyboard progression, as Woods raps on the hook "name change to protect the guilty, you on the wrong side... the raw side."
On "The Opposer", one of Billy's most pugilistic and in- your- face performances, the production is dark, creepy and hard- hitting. Lyrically Woods paints a picture of the drug dealing world as a vicious, dog- eat- dog existence, full of knives in the dark and deception, summarized by lines like "The people you think you admire? They wouldn't piss if you was on fire."
"One Thousand One Nights" is about trying to keep your drug dealing life secret from your lover, and Blockhead chooses to bookend this with a slow- burning, smooth but mournful trumpet- based sample. "Tinseltown" sounds suitably reflective with distantly soaring '80s guitar samples layered on top of chiming synth loops. Woods sounds almost confessional, struggling to come to terms with the life he leads and finds him paranoid; "They said it was easy money, but I just can't trust it... She said I love you honey but I just can't trust it."
The most prolific moment here though comes on "Central Park," which is actually produced by DJ Addikt, but it's Woods' wordplay that is most encapsulating. "Pop quiz... What's the difference between being crazy high and a panic attack? Trick question," before going on to say "Blame the family, blame myself or blame the system."
Billy Woods is as self- depreciating, honest and realistic as ever on "Dour Candy." It's less consciously righteous than "History Will Absolve Me", but it's deliberately depraved and just as vivid and distinctly troubling. It's the kind of cold narrative that brings dark truths to light that Woods' prophetic qualities allow him to do so well.
Key Tracks: Central Park, The Opposer, Tinseltown
For fans of: Aesop Rock, EL-P