Alex Dutty releases “Emoji” single

Spitfire verses adorn a glistening keyboard melody as we become entranced by a bulging bassline just waiting to come alive beneath the surface of a tightly-wound master mix. There’s a slight tension in the air as Alex Dutty laces the beats with a velvety vocal spewed at a breakneck pace, yet the tempo of the music behind him is moving almost in slow motion, creating a fetching contrast that will drive the track’s proceeding three and a half minutes of sonic luster. This is “Emoji,” the all-new single from indie hip-hop hero Alex Dutty featuring a sultry guest appearance from Black Rose, and it’s got critics from one side of the country to the next abuzz right now – for good reason, I might add.

There’s nothing conventional about the conceptual song structure employed by Dutty in this track, and the same can be said for the lyric video as well. Unlike a lot of similarly stylized fodder from his scene, both the single and the video sport really surreal designs that are meant to stir us not only audiologically but emotionally as well. The colorful cuts that comprise the video engage our visual senses in a way that complements the tonality of the music exceptionally, and through Dutty’s self-aware poetry in the verses, we’re treated to lyrical content that counters popular hip-hop themes with more intimate and personable ones. There’s an abundance of experimental rappers trying to do what Dutty is doing with “Emoji,” but few – if any – are yielding nearly as intriguing of a result in or out of the studio.

The instrumental aspect of this track is as much of a mood-setting device as the tender vocalization occupying center stage is. After giving it a close examination, I came to the conclusion that of all the action going on in this song, it’s the rich harmony between Dutty (and later on, Black Rose) and the synthesized grooves that act as the main linchpin in “Emoji.” The beats, the melody emitted from the keyboard and every other musical element here is stylized to accommodate this harmony’s gargantuan wallop, and though it’s larger than life by virtually every artistic measurement, it never becomes so overwhelming in the grander scheme of things that we feel smothered by the sonic excesses in the single.

Alex Dutty keeps getting better and better with time, and judging from the present creative trajectory that he’s on, I would have to assume that his best days in the booth are still ahead of him. “Emoji” raises the bar for both his own music and the scene that inspired him, and for my money, there isn’t anyone actively in the game today that is turning out the evocative material that he is on a consistent basis. You don’t have to be the world’s biggest hip-hop fan to be able to appreciate what Dutty and Black Rose have done together in this track, but for those of us who live and die by a solid rap jam, this is one of the more sophisticated songs to be released this year and definitely qualifies as required listening.

Michael Rand

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