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Review: DJ Lucas, DVNTBEATS "Lil Old Town"

Album cover for "Lil Old Town" by DJ Lucas and DVNTBEATS

Lil Old Town (2024) is a departure from the loud, 808-filled, farm-boy style of music for which DJ Lucas has been known over the last few years. This confusing yet exciting mix of sounds has cemented him as a burgeoning star in the underground rap scene––and not only in Massachusetts. Albums like Americana (2023) and Continuous Improvement (2022) feature this loud, barnyard bumping sound, as well as including frequent collaborators Papo2oo4 and producer Subjxt5.

The artist ditches all this in Lil Old Town (except for a one-off song midway throughout the album, which features Papo). In this album, DJ Lucas plays the struggling 21st century poet who he often refers to throughout his discography. Gone are the constant voice cracks which he uses to emphasize his passion for his music and his loud barn-drill beats, replaced by a more relaxed and poetic version of Lucas, who wants to show off his lyrical skills and ability to rap on beats which accentuate a rapper's voice.

Also gone is Subjxt5, replaced by DVNTBEATS. He is the perfect producer for a rhyme-focused album, having already produced a number of albums for lyric-heavy rappers like Monday Night. He facilitates this new variation of DJ Lucas, and does so perfectly, creating beats which set a consistent tone and atmosphere for the entire album.


"Late nights drivin' up the West Side Highway cause they closing off the Hollis, tattoos and spoken word just like Henry Rollins"

"Mountain Goat" and "Roll It Back (ft. Reed)" kick off the album with the feeling that many people, including myself, have felt while driving through the sticks of Massachusetts (Or really the sticks anywhere). By the sticks, I mean the rural areas of the state, where the people are spread thin and the nature is stunning. This is where Lucas has established himself, spending his 10+ year career fostering a loyal grassroots fanbase. Reed turns in a solid performance as well, rapping with a voice that fits the beat like a glove.

"Mom played Peter, Paul, and Marry, But I feel like Jimmy Cliff singing, 'I can see clearly'"

After this nostalgia-inducing start, Lucas tones things down and presents some mellower melodies on "Waste of Time", "Smoke on The Job", and "Metropolis". He also throws in the title track, which features a heavenly melody and some of the most memorable bars on the album. All four songs display DJ Lucas' impressive ability to constantly create catchy and quotable hooks. Like I said earlier, frequent collaborator Papo2oo4 also features on the album, and more specifically on "All the Hearts". The mixing is a bit funky on this one, with the instrumental blaring in the background and sounding like it might need a bit more time in post processing. However, the duo continues their hot streak of rarely missing on a collab.

"Got her number now I'm sending her the Digital Hearts, Is God tellin' me this is where something pivotal starts?"

On "Digital Hearts", DJ Lucas raps about small town love and finding the one. This is promptly followed by "Tables Turning" and "Block 2 the Burbs", which present an old-school feel and feature performances by Blacksmif and Hunnaloe. While these songs contain memorable performances, notably that of Blacksmif (who sounds like he would have fit in well back when NAS and Wu Tang were rapping), they are a bit jarring and take the listener's attention away from the poetic, small town vibe of the rest of the album. The same thing can sort of be said for "Digital Hearts", as the subject matter does not seem to fit in directly with the rest of the album. However, "Share the Summer with the Horseflies" returns the listener to the sticks and "Buzzards Bay" wraps up the album with a bit of spoken word from DJ Lucas, as well as solid performances from Finesse Fresco and Jimmy Kafka. The final two songs are a strong finishing act for the album and sooth any confusion that may have arisen from the prior songs.

Overall, it is yet another step forward for DJ Lucas, who has been taking many such steps over the last few years. The same can be said for DVNTBEATS, who impresses with his dreamy and nostalgia-inducing instrumentals. Some songs do not necessarily match the general theme of the album and I have a few other minor gripes, however, most of these only come up because I am reviewing the album, and as a casual listener, these will probably not appear as noticeable issues.

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