While D33J has only released EP’s as a solo artist thus far, that has just been slated to change with the announcement of his debut LP “Death Valley Oasis” (set for release September 8 via Anticon Records), as well as the surprise drop of his new single “Black Ice.”
While nominally associated with notorious underground experimental hip-hop collective Anticon, Los Angeles-based electronic and hip-hop musician D33J, has seen his work reach the highest levels of mainstream exposure.
This exposure mainly includes producing beats for the likes of Tory Lanez, Shlohmo, and Lil Yachty, with as much ease and expertise as he does for his more underground label-mates. Part of D33J’s success as a producer comes from his ability to fine-tune and diversify his production style to best match whichever artist he may be working with.
Despite his undeniable ability to switch between production styles, D33J’s solo work conforms to neither the esoteric experimental approach of his Anticon posse nor to the more radio-accessible tones he crafts for Yachty and friends; D33J’s work released under his own name exists at a sort of mid-point between these two modes: a little too weird for the radio, but so much more accessibly human and soulful than the majority of his Antion peers.
“Black Ice” is markedly different than the bulk of the music comprising D33J’s previous EPs. There has been a kind of subtle warmth and happiness that pervades his music, but with “Black Ice,” there’s something just a little sinister lurking under the surface. Underneath his usual layered, summery, instrumental hip-hop/downtempo, is more minor key tonality, and a heavy focus on soulful vocal backing tracks which are warped to the point of being both somber and haunting.
The track by no means feels “threatening.” But it feels denser and deeper than what listeners know of D33J. Rather than evoking the quiet sunset drive of his most recent EP “Grave,” “Black Ice” evokes images of the quiet heart of the city after dusk, and all the mystery contained therein. This sense of mystery is perhaps the most important aspect of “Black Ice,” as it leaves the listener craving more context about this misty nighttime world D33J has so expertly concocted. Only time will tell if “Death Valley Oasis” will satisfy this urge for further exploration into the darkly enchanting sonic terrain of “Black Ice.”