Little Vic - Each Dawn I Die
Little Vic isn't reinventing the wheel by any means, but his understanding of the original East Coast sound and his ability to recreate it today's rap scene without it sounding contrived is commendable.
There's no denying that New York rap has lost its luster over the years. While The Big Apple is the birthplace of Hip Hop itself, and the east coast formula of hard-hitting boom bap and multi-syllabic rhymes is one of the genre's trademarks, it's not as prevalent anymore. Not only are other sounds becoming more widespread, but too many emcees in the area are either trying too hard to keep their sound "up to date" or they're so formulaic that they can't move forward at all. Thankfully, Long Island emcee Little Vic shows the right balance on Each Dawn I Die, keeping his feet firmly planted in the legacy of New York rap without letting it hold him back.
Little Vic shows an incredible chemistry with the East Coast rap legends that made him. "The Exorcist" sees him tearing apart a minimalist offering from DJ Premier, showcasing his sharp, developed flow over a sparse, effective soundbed of bass, snares and beeps, complete with Primo's trademark scratching on the hook. Vic teams up with Buckwild for "The Evil That Men Do," a detailed street soliloquy whose tone is set by a melancholy backdrop of eerie keys and cacophonous guitars by the D.I.T.C. producer. On the only cameo spot of the album, Kool G Rap shows up on "Caked Up," where he and Vic go bar for bar with the gritty, punchline-heavy rhymes that are definitive of the area.
Whenever Vic isn't working with the legends of yesteryears, he's succeeding by utilizing the formula they made successful. Producers Velotz and Double Shot handle over half of Each Dawn I Die, giving the disc a cohesive progression that seesaws from dark and moody to triumphant and soulful. The disc clocks in at a lean 11 tracks and 42 minutes--and very few bars, if any, are wasted. Lyrically, Vic rhymes about street life, the music industry ("After All I've Done"), women ("Love Hurts") and depression via drug abuse ( "Sister Morphine," another highlight)--staying in his pocket as to not to go too left field, but versatile to show he's not entirely one-dimensional. He knows when to use a punchline, when to tell a story to deliver his message, and when to simply construct a 16 that makes the point. Little Vic isn't reinventing the wheel by any means, but his understanding of the original East Coast sound and his ability to recreate it today's rap scene without it sounding contrived is commendable, and makes for an enjoyable listen.
Little Vic doesn't necessarily have the "it" factor that the East Coast legends before him had, and Each Dawn I Die isn't necessarily a future Illmatic in terms of changing the genre. But this album is a great reminder, and Little Vic is a hell of a historian.