If we had an office for HHLAT I’m pretty sure that there would have been a bundle to see who got to review Dabbla’s debut solo album ‘Year Of The Monkey’, as we all wanted this banger of an album, another to add to High Focus Records ever growing list of quality releases. However we don’t, so I gave the opportunity to Intuitive who done such a great job with his first review for us last month. Here’s what he thought about Dabbla’s highly anticipated ‘Year Of The Monkey’ album out Friday (9th Sept)……
Nowadays Hip Hop is a very broad genre, but I’ve always felt as though rappers can be grouped into two general types.
Four decades of Hip Hop emcees from all corners of the globe, from the worst bad-breath sideman spitting 16s in your ear on a Sunday night in suburbia to the absolute pinnacle of underground talent, pushing the limits of what we thought possible in music, can be differentiated as belonging to one of two classifications. Two types. Those heads you’d prefer to hear smash out a set live on a messy night, or the ones you listen to whilst you smoke a zoot to recover the morning after.
Dabbla is definitely the first type.
Bouncing and skipping over beats that thump with that trademarked High Focus sound, he oozes personality, charisma and narcissism in a perfect combination. This is his debut album and in classic Dabbla style, every track is a statement. Subject matter is strictly limited to a witty blend of bars, bitches, booze and buds in a way that is actually fresh and enjoyable. Any new listeners should not be deceived into thinking that Dabbla is some next guy fresh onto the scene, however – he uses descriptive wordplay and multisyllabics with the experienced ease of a rapper that is ten years deep in the scene, having sharpened his skills over his years in groups such as London Zoo, the well-respected Problem Child and Dead Players.
Dabbla – Stupid (OFFICIAL VIDEO) (Prod. GhostTown)
As with any High Focus release, ‘Year Of The Monkey’ comes with a string of brilliant features and production attached. I have been a long-time believer in the fantastic production that High Focus get for their artists being a major factor in the label’s distinct sound and long-term success, and this theory is collated by this album. Names such as Star.One, Naïve, Don Piper, Tom Caruana, Sumgii, Chemo, Roast Beatz and DJ Kermit all bring fucking ace beats to the table, and many of these names are recognisable from other HF releases.
Long-time allies of Dabbla such as Jam Baxter and Ghosttown make expected appearances as well, but we also have brilliant additions from talents like Ocean Wisdom, Dirty Dike, Dubbledge, Graziella and Cobes. This is a 17-track album and despite having a roster of musical talent to compete with, Dabbla not only matches pace on every collaboration track but with every one of the 12 solo tunes being just as good, also proves to any listener that he does not need any help to make a banger.
Dabbla – Randeer (OFFICIAL VIDEO) (Prod. Star.One)
One of my favourite tracks from the album is ‘Cheers’, produced by Ghosttown – to me it really sums up what Dabbla is about. The beat is fucking DIRTY, one of them really greasy smooth screwfacers, and Dabbla flows over it like water. A perfect track to chug a bottle of vodka to, or kill a bear, or something. I listened to this album in the gym and I put on three stone of solid muscle just from listening to this song once. I’ve got a name for Dabbla – the doubletime Dirty Dike. I’m also copywriting that if it takes off. He seems most comfortable on fast-paced tracks, and he utilises this on the majority of tracks on ‘Year Of The Monkey’. This doesn’t mean he’s not great at a slower BPM however, and shows this on tracks like ‘Psychoville’ and ‘Everything’. ‘Psychoville’ is a really snappy tune, with a great hook from Graziella that makes me wish Dabbla did more hooks with female singers. ‘Everything’ is another great boombap track that encapsulates Dabbla’s arrogant attitude – “you might not like me, but I fucking love me”. Songs like this prove that he’s not just a party rapper, but a Hip Hop head. There is a definite difference. Another facet of his personality, aside from the badman bars and his affair with himself – is a distinct element of a love of the ridiculous – the rude side of rap. I think heads like Dabbla, Dirty Dike and Dubbledge are some of the only people who could just about get away with writing tracks about dicks and them still be listenable. Just about.
Like I said before, I think there are two types of rapper, and Dabbla fits very neatly into one of those types. There are pros and cons to this. I absolutely love this album, and I’ve already cleared a space on my shelf and in my playlists for it, but that’s because I love this kind of album – nothing but hard beats, ridiculous concepts, doubletime bars, and all round general get-messy-to music. This album is definitely catered towards a certain demographic – there isn’t a lot of variation in what each individual song provides in comparison to the rest and there is definitely some repetition. But I’ll accept that there is definitely an argument for there not being too much of a good thing within music, and also for that just being a reflection of who Dabbla is as an individual. What is definite is that this release solidifies his presence as one of the best in the underground scene, as a solo artist, and puts him right up alongside all the newest players on High Focus’s roster as some of the best in the UK. Big the fuck up!
Dabbla’s ‘Year Of The Monkey’ is currently available to Pre-Order on all formats and is out on Friday digitally, on CD and Limited Edition Vinyl from
Limited Edition Vinyl http://bit.ly/29poHAr
Check the visuals for the third and fourth singles from ‘Year Of The Monkey’ and more from Dabbla
Dabbla – Vomit Feat. Jam Baxter (OFFICIAL VIDEO) (Prod. GhostTown)
Dabbla – Super Happy (OFFICIAL VIDEO) (Prod. Tom Caruana)
HF TV – Dabbla (EXCLUSIVE BARS)
HF TV – Dabbla (EXCLUSIVE BARS) Pt. 2
HF TV – A Day With Dabbla
Dabbla on Twitter: https://twitter.com/bigdabbla
Dabbla on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/bigdabbla
Dabbla on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/mrdabbla
Dabbla on Soundcloud: https://soundcloud.com/dabbla