DIOS NEGASI – BLACK VIOLIN
Some styles of music are always going to remain relevant no matter how many decades pass by. Street culture, braggadocio, and disses; will forever find their way into homes everywhere. It balances the scales. Here comes Dios Negasi releasing his third album, this year alone, Black Violin (Reagan Era Records), a gritty release that’s short on expletives and rife with head lyricism and guttural beats, all of which embrace inner-city knowledge and culture.
While Dios Negasi, and his Reagan Era cohorts who are scattered throughout the album, may share similarities with artists that may have come before them, Black Violin is a fresh look at street life. “Hilfiger Summer featuring Dyverse and Skrillz Dior,” offers inner city imagery, covered in red, blue & white streetwear, as gunshots ring out, spliffs are lit, and crack references, along with carefree vibes abound. The melodies are interesting, with backing vocals chiming out an Alice Cooper chorus, with an additional hook. If this doesn’t pique your interest, I’m not sure what will. But it’s the darkly edged “The Chambers featuring R.J. Payne” that’s eerie and ominous. The piano, accented by strings, allows room for imagination, as steam rises from manhole covers as Dios fights for survival.
There’s an abundance of soulfulness throughout the album, and it can’t be ignored on “Niccolo Paginini” which features Jrudrikid. The deep bass groove rips through the track as both Dios and Jrudrikid volley rhymes between one another over what sounds like a Teena Marie sample (I could be wrong but Dios mentions her in his lyrics.). We even find some of that soul in “Pretty Pale Skin featuring Chris Scott.” But it’s the lyrics that are interesting here as both emcees draw parallels between women and drugs here, metaphorically speaking. It may take a moment to see the connection but once you find it, you ride that wave. This is cleverly done. Those aren’t the only parallels we find as “Murder Hornets” featuring Jrudrikid, Skrillz Dior, Big Herk Da Terrible, and Halo The Lost Angel all come in with a crew vibe as they utilize Wu-Tang’s “Clan In Da Front” for the musical backdrop also blending in key lyricism with “Shame on a nigga.” Now while some may believe classics should be left alone, it’s obvious Dios Negasi & company are more about homage than coopting. The bees buzzing around is a clear giveaway.
Black Violin is another view of Dios Negasi’s reality; things he’s seen in a life he’s learned from for 12 heated tracks. I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention “Vio-Lence featuring Dyverse and Matt Nye.” In a sense, it’s melancholic for those of us who have lived through a world that many will never want to see up close. But those that know, just know, and Dios Negasi definitely knows.