Denmark Vessey – Cult Classic

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Dirty Science: 2013

Denmark Vessey is sticking to his roots. Whether it is his name (which he shares with the notable South Carolinian slave rebel of the 1800s) or the beats he delivers on (which induce a soul-rock, Motown flow), or his affinity for religion, Vessey shows listeners that following the history that got us here can create unique albums such as this: Cult Classic. Vessey shows us why he is an up and coming artist out of Detroit for a few reasons. His verses are well put-together and sound more like those of Yasiin Bey (fka Mos Def) as can be heard on the album’s title track. He also shows listeners that he knows how to link up with a great beatsmith. Soul loops with a slight hint of kung fu tracks are produced by Chicago artist and producer, Scud One, and synchronize this LP as a whole. Denmark Vessey’s lyrical cult movement attempts to create a following that is not caused by drinking the proverbial kool aid, but instead through the “new hypnotic” sounds that Vessey recycles.

Fresh off teaming up for Vessey’s latest mixtape, Don’t Drink the Kool Aid, Scud One serves a healthy portion of 1970s Midwest soul beats that focus heavy on the guitar and bass riffs, allowing Vessey to bounce with lyrical and religious-based prowess and light-lipped, seemingly casual and intriguing, Motor City flows. That is not to say every track on this album is a classic; some songs won’t grab your attention for the duration due to slight corniness and repetitiveness, and sometimes Vessey struggles to deliver cohesive lyrics. But for the most part Vessey uses both his lyrics and Scuds beats to vividly depict the tale of cult leader trying to coax listeners to become followers and it is fascinating to hear the storyline build with each song until the album’s final resolution.

Aptly named Cult Classic, the self-proclaimed leader Vessey delves into many religious and cult following topics that are peppered with unidentified preaching samples. The album intro begins with an audio clip of a preacher’s defense of cult followings, transitioning midway into Vessey’s interpretation of biblical stories exemplified in “HoeininDaGaddaDaVida”, which dives into the argument of science versus Divine Creator, and “Thank you Based God”, which concerns the sighting of religious miracles. Towards the end of the record Denmark shows the self-doubt that poisons the thoughts of every cult leader/aspiring rapper with songs such as “Ego Trip”, which depicts the paranoid-stricken and bittersweet life of a poet. This is a perfectly fitting place for such a song in setting up as the conflict of Vessey’s album, yet it still allows enough tracks to follow in order to deliver a resolution before the album expires. “Give it Up” serves as a fitting conclusion to the album as it starts with a gospel piano riff and is followed an upbeat brass component as Vessey delivers his final message and intent to motivate listeners and continue to create more soulful albums like these.

His timing is fluid and his verses, for the most part, are clean, concise and narrative; and this is only his debut album. If you thought I was expecting something this unique on an artist’s initial LP, you would be wrong. The issues Denmark discusses on each track aren’t something that we’re typically used to and while I will not call him the next lyrical savior, Cult Classic is a very nice start to get the cult-like following that Vessey believes he deserves.

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4 out of 5

You can buy Cult Classic on Amazon.