Naming your album after a religious deity is always going to be a controversial move, just ask Kanye West. Rapper/producer Dharmarat (Adam Kitto) takes the plunge into religious ideology with his latest release ‘Jesus’. Still not far into the 20s himself, Dharmarat has released 21 projects over his short career and is credited with a string of successes including his 2017 album ‘Times’.
Working with the likes of Church Leon and Rmns, ‘Jesus’ can be seen as the calm before the storm. The album sees the Pukekohe rapper experimenting with new sounds and styles. Described as a “sampler” by the artist, ‘Jesus’ has enough quality to stand out on its own, filled with an eclectic mix of up-tempo hip hop and trap which changes in genre and style across the 10 tracks.
Pls Don’t Lie and Interscope feature hard and gritty punchlines accompanied by the punching bass that he has become synonymous with. There are also some moments of true introspection and this is where the album truly shines. Stepping aside from the usual bodacious brag raps and hard trap bangers, Dharmarat opens up about his personal life on the likes of I Will and Dumno. The tracks see the rapper dealing with substance abuse, vulnerability and relationship issues. “I can’t even put the drugs down for a week, every time I’m cold turkey I can hear it calling me.” (Dumno).
Dharmarat dives deeper into these feelings on what is surely the project’s best song, I Will. Raw and introspective lyrics placed over a bone-chilling R&B-inspired instrumental create a truly hauntingly memorable song. The beat features a chopped auto-tuned sample from The Weeknd layered over some beautiful percussion to create a tantalising canvas for Dharmarat to work on – and he certainly makes very good use of it. You’ll be hard pressed to find a more emotionally charged song this year.
‘Jesus’ chops and changes its production styles, bouncing between the boundaries of hip hop, trap and R&B. This diversity creates a fresh listening experience and tempo changes further keep things exciting. Dharmarat still has a very ‘do it yourself’ attitude, with most of the songs on the project self-produced.
The confidence in his own ability shines through in the likes of I Freestyle Better Than U Write and Rest. If ‘Jesus’ really is a project full of off-cuts not good enough to make the next album, then we should be expecting something of exceptional quality from Dharmarat in the near future.