Deniro Farrar – Rebirth EP

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Vice/Warner Bros.: 2014

Deniro Farrar is the square peg in the round hole that is cloud rap.

If his industry counterparts within the style primarily identify with the airy, psychedelic-influenced sounds and subject matter, the self-proclaimed “leader of Cult Rap” Farrar could easily be seen as the reflective, brooding calm before the storm when sized up alongside them. Offering cloud rap something with a little more substance with his evocative, personal bars, Farrar has been recognized for his unique, gravely vocal tone and his visceral, almost uninflected delivery.

His major-label debut, Rebirth, doesn’t show a drastic shift away from such traits that caught the ears of many in the first place. The six-song EP essentially picks up where both 2013’s The Patriarch and The Patriarch II left off – with the 24-year-old North Carolina native offering a forceful, deep-seated delivery of strikingly honest lyricism atop ethereal production.

An incredibly vivid lyricist, Farrar has said time and again that his greatest musical inspiration is his own life, which for a wealth of impactful material. Only moments into the EP’s opening double feature “Rebirth/Hold On” does the listener learn of Farrar’s everyday pressures – his currently incarcerated younger brother, being a support system for his two children  and having an alcoholic uncle, among others. “Light my blunt with a burning bill/They say I sold my soul/Well I guess it’s real,” Farrar raps on “Burning Bills” , an unsettling commentary on money as a necessary evil. A more heartfelt tale is revealed on the track “Notice”, dedicated to a hard-working single mother. But this moment is fleeting, standing in opposition next to “Bow Down”. This is easily Rebirth’s most brash track, which showcases a bit of a back-and-forth braggadocio from both Farrar and Florida emcee Denzel Curry. “Tired” functions as a worthy bookend to the short look into Farrar’s mind, searching for promise of success amidst an inner-monologue hook:

“Tired of robbin’
Tired of hustlin’
Sick of dodgin’
Tired of duckin’
Sick of fussin’
Tired of fightin’
Dog, we’re rappin’
Tired of writ in’”

Production-wise, Farrar’s taste once again lends an abundance of largely ambient cloud rap sounds. Dreamy keyboards and samples drift in behind the unbridled slam of a snare drum on the heartfelt and aforementioned song “Notice”, while skittering trap hi-hats run freely throughout “Rebirth/Hold On” and “Tired”. “Bow Down” stands tall in the second-half as a bass-heavy banger, contrasting nicely with the laid-back introspection of “Late Nights”. Collaborating once again with Montreal producer Lunice for “Burning Bills” is the icing on the cake for the already menacing cut. Pitch-shifted vocals and bewitching bells work excellently in creating a bleak, somber hypnosis.

Those already amongst Farrar’s faithful will not be incredibly surprised by what Rebirth has to offer as a finished product. It stands as a solid continuation of the man’s stylistic self-discovery and emergence as a rapper – making for a more than adequate introduction for those who have yet to be acquainted with his work.

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4 out of 5

You can purchase the Rebirth EP on iTunes.