Tardy Album Review | Dibia$e – Bonus Levels

This album was released on June 21st this year. Dibia$e is one of those producers who I’d seen a lot of Hip Hop heads mention in the past, but I hadn’t really heard that much of his work before checking out this album. As a matter of fact, I’m pretty sure I’d only ever actually heard two beats from him. I loved both of them though. His production on Clear Soul Forces’ 2013 album, Gold PP7s was great, and I thought his beat on Blu’s NoYork! was even better. When I saw that this project had a video game theme, it seemed like a no-brainer. I’m surprised this is the first project that Dibia$e has ever done with this theme because the other two beats I had heard from him also sounded like they were straight out of a video game.

This review is gonna be pretty short because, as I’ve stated in almost every review for an instrumental project, I’m not great at breaking down production. Usually all I have to say is “I (dis)like this beat.” I thankfully liked every single track on this project though. I’m just gonna mention some of my favorite tracks. I might mention a couple of the weak points too. So, the record starts off with an audio clip of Latarian Milton saying that his punishment should be a weekend without video games. Man that whole Latarian Milton story makes me upset. That kid is a piece of shit. I mean, he was only 7 years old when he stole his grandma’s car. He’s actually in jail now though because he got arrested for carjacking a Lyft driver in 2017. I think he’s like 17 or 18 right now. Maybe 19. I don’t know. Anyway, that audio clip was a nice way to introduce the video game theme, and it transitions nicely into the instrumental. The beat itself isn’t amazing or anything, but I still liked it quite a bit. Throughout this project there are a lot of small vocal samples that kinda function as ad-libs, such as Westside Gunn saying, “AYO” or Busta Rhymes saying “Yo!” over and over again. The way the vocal samples are incorporated kinda reminds me of J Dilla’s Donuts. Anyway, the first real standout track for me is the second song, Link Up. The title leads me to believe that it includes a Legend of Zelda sample, but I’m not really a big video game guy, so I might be wrong about that. Tornado Spinkicks was another favorite of mine. The Street Fighter samples were great. I was never really into that series personally, but the sample of Ryu saying “HADOUKEN” was a nice touch. The following track, Vorhees, wasn’t as entertaining to me, but I still enjoyed it. I think that was a Legend of Zelda sample again? I don’t know. I’m probably wrong about that. Movin’ Blocks was an interesting track. I feel like the title should’ve made it obvious, but I didn’t realize that it was a Tetris song until I heard the theme song sample. It’s one of just two songs that reaches over three minutes in length, but it thankfully switches up multiple times in order to prevent things from getting stale. It’s followed by Ninja Starz, which is probably my favorite track on the album. I’m not really sure what game was being sampled for that track. Maybe Ninja Gaiden? Or maybe The Mysterious Murasame Castle. I don’t fuckin’ know. It’s possible that it doesn’t sample a video game at all. The reason I like it so much is that it just sounds more layered than most of the other beats. It doesn’t just sound like a video game beat. It sounds like an instrumental that could be used for a full song. It’s unfortunately followed by two of the weakest tracks on the album for me. I don’t think Piston Honda & Jungle Stage are bad beats. They just don’t really stand out that much to me. I did enjoy them, but they just aren’t very memorable. Last Wave was a little more interesting than the preceding couple of tracks, and I thought the Busta Rhymes sample was cool. Quick Escape was another one of my favorite tracks. It’s really between that one and Ninja Starz. I honestly haven’t really made up my mind yet. I think Quick Escape has a Metroid sample, but I’m probably wrong about that. I don’t know. I think the beat is awesome though. The Katt Williams sample was funny too. I really don’t know which one I prefer. They’re both fantastic instrumentals. The following song, Clockworks, was another standout track for me. The title gave me the impression that it was inspired by J Dilla’s Donuts, i.e. a spiritual successor to Airworks, Lightworks, etc. Clockworks is followed by the Castlevania remix, which was actually produced by 14KT. It was cool to throw in some non-self produced tracks in order to switch things up a little bit. It’s definitely another highlight for me. The hard hitting percussion sounded fantastic to me. That’s definitely my favorite aspect of the beat. There’s also a Metroid remix, which is produced by Elaquent. Speaking of Elaquent, I didn’t write about it, but I recommend his Blessing in Disguise album, which came out earlier this year. Anyway, his Metroid remix is another highlight for me, but it honestly didn’t sound that different from the other beats by Dibia$e. It was very good though. That’s really the last highlight on the album for me personally. My least favorite track is easily the outro, Blaster Master. I’ve never really been into Footwork music, so I wasn’t crazy about this track. I mean, I did enjoy it to some extent, but if I had to cut a song out of the tracklist, it would definitely be that one. It doesn’t help that it’s the longest song on the album either. The Ludacris sample didn’t do anything for me. I do like the song though. It’s solid. Just far from my favorite.


Overall, I think this album is pretty great. Again, there wasn’t a single track that I didn’t like at least a little bit. It’s not the best instrumental project I’ve heard this year, but it’s far from the worst. If you’re looking for lo-fi boom-bap chiptune beats, this is exactly what you need. This is kind of obvious, but Mega Ran would definitely sound perfect over these beats. I wanna say Noveliss would sound great over it too, but I feel like I’m just thinking that because I’ve already heard him over a Dibia$e beat. I don’t know. Either way, I think this is a great album, and I’m glad I checked it out. I’m looking forward to whatever he does in the future because this shit is dope. Check it out.

Favorite Song: Ninja Starz
Least Favorite Song: Blaster Master

82

80-89
Grade: B+

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