When first listening to the opening bars of the new single “Letter to My Past” by rapper Deige, it becomes more than obvious just how disinterested this player is in making the kind of hip-hop a lot of his peers are. Don’t get me wrong – while there’s a certain amount of familiarity to be found in this track, there’s a lot more ambitiousness when it comes to the instrumental componentry at hand than what you would normally find in a mainstream pop release, but with that said, there’s a lot of reason to believe that this is just the beginning of a really bold career for this artist.
The mix is fairly postmodern in “Letter to My Past,” and yet none of the awkward arrogance that often comes with a rather surreal addition to a hip-hop track is present here. There’s definitely a sense of personality to the concept at hand, but Deige is going out of his way to keep the lyrical narrative tethered to a commentary perspective than it is anything you might read in a diary entry. He wants to be vulnerable with us, but at the same time, he wants to avoid the inadequate tonal presence of a piece that feels too personal from top to bottom.
These lyrics push emotion to the forefront of the track, but scarcely does it ever feel like we’re listening to a pure ballad in “Letter to My Past.” There’s a certain assertiveness that I crave in a pop crossover making its way into the chorus here, and yet the hesitancy of the beat is enough to influence our entire interpretation of the verses in the second half of the song. To create a single around a theme is one thing, but to develop a story that extends itself into multiple emotional avenues without having to depart from a singular tempo or tone is pretty impressive indeed.
The weight on these drums advances the underlying catharsis of the chorus exponentially, but I’d stop short of saying that Deige puts too much stock on the percussive backdrop here. He’s more concerned with the length of the beat than he needs to be, but at this stage of his career, it makes a lot of sense why he would be. In the last five years, there’s been an influx in beat-centric content in the underground sans a melodic centerpiece, and in some ways that’s the void this single is tasked with filling.
Blue-collar rap can have a melodic component to its best moments, and if you didn’t think so before listening to “Letter to My Past,” I think you’re going to step away from this track and its companion music video with a very different opinion. Diege has a great flow going for him here, and as long as he doesn’t make any major augmentations between now and the next time he steps into the recording studio, there’s a good shot that his next release is going to be even bigger than this one is.
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