The first taste of the ever-cocky DaBoii’s latest solo project — outside his group, SOB x RBE — came back in May, with “Onna Gang,” a track showcasing an unmistakable Bay Area slap, and one on which the rapper boasts, “90s baby, middle-fingers to the new school.” From the sound of Neva Lookin Back, which dropped in December, he wasn’t kidding around: DaBoii continues to pursue a classic rap sound, one with close ties to new-wave funk, freestyle, and electro. And while SOB x RBE’s output openly reps those influences as well (“Carpoolin’” wrecks a sample of Noel’s new-wave hit “Silent Morning”), DaBoii indulges in them even more on his own. With songs like “Ridin” and “Survival,” the rapper favors spare production with fat, dexterous bass lines, providing backdrops that he utilizes to try-out a dozen different flows and cadences, his vocal shape-shifting between exaggerated grunt (“Tragedy”), maniacal howl (“Ridin’”), and detached whisper (“True Colors”). The rapper’s liberal approach to meter, and his aggressive delivery, both highlight a sense of instability that feeds into a struggle with inner demons, while still allowing him to ooze charisma. And that’s really the main attraction of Neva Lookin’ Back: DaBoii flaunts his superb skill, and his classic sound, in a way that, at the very least, fully supports that middle finger-waving taunt he issued earlier in the year.
Published as part of What Meek Didn’t Do | The Rap Releases We Missed in 2018.