Given that this record was released mid-July, this review is long overdue. I’d basically scrapped that idea, in a the-moment’s-gone sort of way, but then today I got home to the vinyl pressing of the record. As with every new vinyl, it needed a spin right away, and as I listened to it, it reminded me just how creative and unique this record is. GDP‘s previous releases have been formidable, but Holla really is something else.
The trouble with a lot of hip-hop and rap is that it can place too much emphasis on just the lyrics and their performance. Whatever music that the words are layered over tends to be just thrown together, a necessity thats only purpose is to distinguish rap from poetry. In fairness that has been less true of the past couple of years, with artists like Kendrick Lamar and Bishop Nehru collaborating and creating complete songs in a way that some think such artists are incapable of – you know the whole “That’s not real music” bullshit. By no means does that suggest that the instrumentals of GDP’s previous records were without substance, but what is created on Holla with ‘The Wrong Address’ is something different. It hints backwards to a former time, a sorely missed time; the double bass on ‘Catatonia’ and the strings on ‘Mascara’ scream nostalgia. And when you fully take in the record, you realise that so much of it is about loss and regret, something that the moroseness of lines like “I said I’m not coming home and I can’t call / There’s nowhere I feel comfortable in this damn world” really drives home. This is why Holla is a hip-hop record that fits in with the usual suspects of Run For Cover Records – sure, bands like Daylight and Citizen are musically the polar opposite to what GDP does, but they share the same melancholy.
GDP’s talent really lies in his ability to confront different subject matter in an honest way. He goes from the despair of losing a person in ‘Catatonia’ to the perverse thrill of reconnecting with that person in a way that you know that you shouldn’t in ‘Friends That Fuck’. When you consider that one major critique levelled at rap artists is the accusation of crudity and tastelessness, especially towards women, the way that he tackles the subject of lust in the latter track is impressive. It is absolutely not sophisticated, but it is the closest to embodying pure desire that music can come to: lyrics like “If we do it just this once I might never let you stop” plastered over a dreary string sample – it is such a conflict between crass and artistic that it is impossible to stop listening.
I come to the end of most reviews and I realise that almost every record I pick is a sad one. Regret and loss are such powerful emotions though that you can’t expect most artists to focus on anything else. From the upbeat start to the low tempo and almost muted and crushed strains of closer ‘Placeholder’, the themes are so clear. In some ways, it would be fair to consider this primitive almost – to concentrate on one thing so fiercely can be the downfall of some records. But Holla is so unmistakably about sadness, and conveys it so well, that to see it as too simple would be to misunderstand it.