Dame D.O.L.L.A. - Confirmed Album Review

Story posted October 16, 2017 in Arts & Entertainment, CommRadio by Sam McQuillan

For athletes who experiment with music, the product they put forth often serves as little more than the source of a few good laughs during a hall of fame speech. For Portland Trailblazers point guard, Damian Lillard, AKA Dame D.O.L.L.A., the time he devotes in the rap studio takes a back seat only to his all-star career on the court. The NBA player released his first music project, The Letter O in October of 2016. “There's always been something said about me spending time in the studio, even though I've always shown up and produced for my team every night,” Lillard wrote on his Instagram account. “I've never had issues with stardom.” A year removed from his first album, Lillard released his follow-up, Confirmed, an album which he says was made to show that “this [music] is no longer an experiment.” Featuring appearances from heavyweights like Lil Wayne and 2 Chainz, as well as up and comers BJ The Chicago Kid and Nick Grant, the 13 track project is a serious shot at hip hop. While Dame’s rapping ability helps him stand out from his athlete peers, the album’s banal narrative of the life of a baller boxes him in from a creative standpoint.

The beats Lillard raps over on his sophomore album deviate a little from his approach to The Letter O. Unlike his first project which sampled mainly old school jazz instrumentals, not a single French horn can be heard on Confirmed. The project employs many of the same style of soft, bare-bones beats that appear on The Letter O, but instead, Confirmed spices things up a bit with a couple heavier trap tracks like “Run It Up” and “Anomaly.” While Dame has made it clear since he freestyled over the classic “Dead Presidents” beat on Sway In The Morning that lyricism is his top priority as an artist, the soft beats on Confirmed get old quick and sometimes feel like they were put together by someone fiddling around with GarageBand. That’s not to say every track follows this pattern. Tracks like “Shoota” and “5th of Henn” still have a legitimate up-tempo production style for listeners to bang their heads to.

Lillard shows his strengths as a rapper on Confirmed most with his lyricism. Lines like, “I’m from where Golden State at/But Portland where I lay at/I’m the Daddy Mac, Mac Dady with hoppin’ and rappin’/Y’all be on your Kirss Kross, uh, hustlin’ backwards/All this game I’m givin’ is prolly gon’ be a caption,” despite slight corniness, show the effort Dame puts into his writing. At times his lyrics become too corny and run the risk of losing listeners’ interest. However, that’s more of a consequence of the album’s cliché theme of the life of a baller and less due to skill. If Dame could release music that delved more into his story from Oakland kid to NBA All-Star, he’d make a much more lasting impression. His tendency to stick to his comfort zone where he raps vaguely about starting from the bottom and now being here may be a consequence of his athletic career and the strings that come along with it. Adidas, which is contracted to pay Lillard as much as $100 million over the next decade, may not be the biggest fan of their star athlete rapping about the harsh realities of his upbringing “which made [him] a man if plenty substance,” as he raps on No Punches.

Compared to other athletes who have tried their hand at rap such as Kobe Bryant or Deion Sanders, Lillard is Tupac. With Confirmed, he set out to establish himself as someone serious about music. While there are glaring flaws with the album, it’s not bad music. It’s an easy listen and there’s enough variety to listen all the way through at least once. The project clearly shows he’s put effort into his craft, as he comes across as someone who is a better rapper than he was on his first project. Lillard has increased his scoring totals every year since entering the league in 2012. Similarly, Confirmed shows fans that his rap career has potential to follow a similar path. What remains to be seen is if the Oakland native can diversify himself and change up his content.

Rating: 5/10  

 

Sam McQuillan is a junior majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email samuelrmcquillan@gmail.com