“Alpoko The Don aka Don Dada will go down as the best rapper they never heard. Listening to his proj, his voice is so soulful.”
The above quote is by me, posted on Twitter on Valentine’s Day. It was inspired by spending three days prior riding to Alpoko Don’s The Ol’ Soul EP (listen/buy here). The whole of the project consisted of street-infused rhymes delivered in a Southern Baptist sort of way accented by nothing but the Greenville, South Carolina artist tapping his beats on wood and harmonizing in a way that reminds of Sunday morning hymns.
But, it had been way too long since we heard new music from Don Dada and I was ready to give up hope. Still, even if he never recorded another verse, I’d save him a spot in my top 10 of most entertaining acts from the Internet days. Nothing – and I mean nothing – can erase how blown away by dude’s YouTube videos and the music created from the period. From his “Song To God”, a conversation where he plays the role of himself and His Maker:
“I don’t know, I don’t get it Lord talk to me
How can I have faith in something that I just can’t see
This a small example, son, listen very closely
You can’t see oxygen but you believe you breath”
I’m sure there’s some battle rap guy out there who has amazed everybody else but I’ve never been into that whole scene. Give me an Alpoko: a guy who’s obviously rooted in the streets, the same ones who probably slow down his ability to record, be it from the actual hustle or because he got hemmed up by the law somehow.
The artist who becomes an automatic reference point for Don’s voice is obviously Scarface, another Southern-born street philosopher. They share the same, chest-heavy tone that’s unmistakable. Don’s aware of it cites Brad Jordan as one of his inspirations for making music. So it’s only right that the two end up doing a track together. As it turns out, ‘Face came to know Don Dada’s material just like the rest of us: through the YouTube vids.
“I got tired of everyone saying I sound like Scarface. So Scarface has always been an inspiration for me, and since we sound alike, I reached out to him. Once he found out who I was, it was a go. He was like, “Oh yeah I know you! You were the man beating on the porch! Let’s do it.” He even dropped the price down.”
That’s how we arrive here at “Set The Record Straight.” The newcomer and the vet together, building over Southern fried funk by Cory Mo. Honestly, it’s not the smash hit that I want to see for Don. He’s still a little rough around the edges when it comes to riding a beat and Scarface sounds a bit rusty, too. But, you can hear hints of the magic when Alpoko throws out barbs: “All that woofin’, I make you cut’cha tail, cut ya d*** off, Stick it in yo’ ass like you done f***ed yo’ self” and “Me and my son gangsta, he keep his gun high, His name his Pontiac, if I don’t shoot, my Sunfire.”
Right now, Don’s next project, Straight From The Heart, is slated for a first quarter drop. I’ll bet a nickel to a dollar that he may not blow up, but I’ll also double down and say not too many other projects will hold the same weight as whatever the Don does from 2014 and beyond.