REVIEW: DawgGoneDavis — Clean Slate (SINGLE)

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DawgGoneDavis has always been the type of rapper to utilize rhythm as a major tool of communication in her music, and in the new single “Clean Slate,” she makes it the outright focal point of the track. The groove slams us hard in this song, brashly tying together the melodic points of the metallic instrumentation with the steady sway of the verses, and while it can be said that nothing could ever completely remove the spotlight from DGD herself, she’s absolutely handing over part of the focus to the backdrop in this particular number. Call it surreal if you will, but to me this cerebral piece of music is just another example of her striking ability in the studio.

From the moment they got into recording mode, I think both producer and artist alike felt ensuring the organic tone of the music in “Clean Slate” was as pivotal to connecting with the audience as any of the actual lyrics are. It’s hard to believe, but attention to detail has actually started to slip as the advent of studio technology has come to a head in recent years; of course, this works to the benefit of an artist like DGD tremendously. She stands out for her sharp subtleties, especially among critics like myself.

Instrumentally speaking, there’s a harshness to the guitar element in “Clean Slate” that seems to have been made this way intentionally, perhaps to amplify the straightforwardness of the lead vocal. The juxtaposition of dirty melodies and relatively seamless poetry being cut with a high midrange in the middle of the mix is fascinating if not really entrancing, and where some newcomers to the DGD sound might be a little taken aback by the invasiveness of the harmony, others will appreciate it for just how unique an attribute it’s become.

Despite the heaviness of her backdrop in this single, DawgGoneDavis is always playing like a true star she is here, and I think her overall growth is really noticeable. Just in the last three years, she’s demonstrated time and time again that she isn’t interested in remaining stationary in her aesthetical development, but instead will do anything to diversify her sound and become more accessible as an artist. It’s resulted in a very forward performance in “Clean Slate,” and one I have a feeling both her fans and the Kansas City underground are not likely to forget.

I always count on something zany from DawgGoneDavis’ recording sessions, and she definitely doesn’t disappoint with “Clean Slate” this year. Chago Williams once again puts on a clinic in the producer’s chair while the lady of the hour delivers a surgically precise rap that is a lot easier to digest than some of the overly sexualized (and highly commercialized) hip-hop emerging on the mainstream market at the moment, and if they can continue their partnership into this new decade, I don’t see their regular production of hits stopping for anything. The momentum is undeniably there, and these two are riding it to stardom beautifully.

Colin Jordan

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