Famous Dex has penned some of the most insane, exuberant SoundCloud rap to date — tracks like Dex Meets Dexter‘s two singles, “Pick It Up” and “Japan.” The former of these features a simultaneously bouncy and tip-toeing beat that, combined with Dex’s explosive and erratic flow, creates an intense synergy that then abruptly falls away, as the song settles into a smooth, down-tempo interlude — before finally picking up again. A$AP Rocky’s verse co-signs the madness, finding the once-It Rapper actually flexing his chops again, as if inspired by his young peer’s madness. “Japan” is similarly stop-and-start in its pacing, with erratic ad-libs providing the connective tissue between a series of variegated approaches to the bar “I just popped a Xan / Fifteen thousand in Japan.” If Dex Meets Dexter, this rapper’s debut album, maintained the levity of these singles, we might have something of a classic on our hands. And the Pi’erre Bourne-produced opener “DMD” does certainly try, offering up a shimmering, glitchy beat for Dex to play with. Cuts like “Prove It,” “Deadpool,” and “Hemi,” though, trend slowly toward diminishing returns, with Dex trying his darnedest but up against increasingly dark and stereotypical trap production. Then there are the outliers, tracks which find Dex way outside his comfort zone attempting some genre fusion — “Light” being the biggest offender, and sounding like any other contemporary auto-crooned R&B radio hit.
The concept of this album, which as the title sort of suggests is the struggle between the “fun loving” persona Dex and the more “unhinged” Dexter, is pretty compelling; and the five-minute “Said So” certainly negotiates this divide vividly, with the auto-tune creating fascinating resonances between Dex’s trademark flow and his attempts at singing. The sheer length of the song, and its Lil Yachty-reminiscent aesthetic, demonstrate a versatility that, coupled with others anti-banger “Take Her” — wherein Dex removes all the affectation and effects applied to his voice — should indicate good things to come. Unfortunately, between the problems plaguing his mentor Rich the Kid’s label, a potentially life-threatening Xanax addiction, and the troubling release of 2016 footage wherein Dex hits his then-girlfriend — lingering doubts remain for the zeitgeist-capturing artist.
Published as part of What Meek Didn’t Do | The Rap Releases We Missed in 2018.