Def-i Dream Trails (Self-released)
Def-i is a mature rapper with a toolbelt that is as complex as it is complete. Dude’s new album Dream Trails gives solid indications of that condition from the magical musical flowering of the first track, “High Hopes,” a work that mixes up laconic strummed snippets of melody poured over a rapid fire confessionalism. It’s difficult but daring work, shattering the molds of what’s current in hip-hop with deft desire for change, even in the structure of the music and flow that guides a movement. On profoundly epic cruises like track six, “Help Me Breathe,” the artist slips into another dimension that is as smooth as it is otherworldly, a theme that is developed with glitchy grandeur and syncopation with an R&B inflection on the eighth track “Multiverse feat. E-Turn.” The record crests joyfully on the tenth track, “Running feat. Voice of Honey,” and then continues to ride a wave both deep and dank back to the reaches of the Earth.
Much removed from the youthful party time musings of the new, next generation of local rappers, Def-i’s journey is the authentic voice of a known poet who makes pictures of his words with music from the other side. The production on this effort is so damn good you can practically taste the tuneful instrumental choices; the vocalizing on number nine, “Keep Truth feat. Ami Kim” are easily angelic and boundlessly beatific. As the artist said, my heartbeat is increasing.