Dolla Bill – Old Schoolin’
The hills surrounding Raleigh, North Carolina may not sound like fertile ground for skilled hip hop artists, but Dolla Bill is quickly proving any potential naysayers wrong with singles like “Old Schoolin’”. He began pursuing musical ambitions when he was sixteen years old and, as of now, has been cutting his own hip hop tracks for five years but, unlike many other performers in this vein, Dolla Bill has a solid musical grounding not shared by many of his contemporaries and peers. It gives his music a distinct flavor lacking in those counterparts and he’s, likewise, an obvious student of the form vocally. You will definitely hear other performers casting their shadow over Dolla Bill’s work, but their effect is never pronounced. Dolla Bill has, instead, managed to transmute those influences through his own ambitions and experiences in order to produce something uniquely his own.
This song sounds like Dolla Bill went into recording this song knowing exactly what he wanted the final product to sound like and there’s little reason to doubt that he didn’t accomplish exactly what he set out to do. “Old Schoolin’” sounds remarkably polished, nothing like what you might expect from an indie artist, and the backing track has a particularly rich sound. The bass threatens to blow out your speakers, but never crosses the line from being a genuine musical touch into a glorified form of sonic torture for the ears. It’s entertaining how Dolla Bill manages to mix up the synthesizer sound running throughout the song, seemingly wringing endless variations from what might initially seem to be a limited facet of the song’s presentation, and this imaginative reach is part of what separates Dolla Bill from many of his counterparts.
You can’t help but like the transitions. They are never pushed too hard, shifting without fanfare but always making an impact, and the gradual modulation of the song’s dynamic range is one of its strongest features. The chorus is especially effective, never too heavy-handed, and the way he fuses that part of the song with the rest of the track is illustrative of the artistry Dolla Bill brings to bear on the song as a whole. It is as finely crafted a piece of hip hop as you’ll hear in recent years. The crowning touch, however, is his vocals.
He isn’t content with just taking it from one angle. Instead, Dolla Bill sets up the soulful against the rugged without ever making the contrast stand out too much – they come together sounding like two sides of the same performer rather providing a jolting effect for listeners. The higher pitched “soulful” vocal is really good – I tended to focus more on that delivery during the course of the song and Dolla Bill never sounds uncertain of that side of his vocal talents. “Old Schoolin’” has something to offer for every hip hop fan and even casual listeners are sure to be entertained by the song’s trajectory. It undoubtedly makes for a great addition to Goin’ Wit Da Flow and a strong standalone single on its own.
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