Album Review | D. Lanham & Ronesh – Bleak Americana

This album was released on October 1st this year. D. Lanham & Ronesh are pretty much my favorite underground duo right now. Everything they’ve done together has blown me away. I think D. Lanham is an incredible lyricist, and Ronesh has quickly become one of my favorite producers in the underground, along with August Fanon & Conductor Williams. This is the first actual album from D. Lanham & Ronesh, so I have pretty high expectations for it. I won’t be surprised if this ends up being one of my favorite albums of the year, if not my number one favorite album of 2021. I’m very excited for this.

There aren’t any tracks that I don’t like on this album, so I’ll write about the full project in the proper order of the tracklist. The album starts with Mama There Go That Man, which has a pretty nice beat. The rapping from D. Lanham is of course top notch. The actual lyricism is the main selling point of the song for me personally. I think he killed this shit. Both of the verses are great. His flow is real nice. The melodic hook is solid too. The song kinda reminded me of Mick Jenkins just because of the tone of D. Lanham’s voice.

A world where the 7 deadly turned to casual sins
I ain't enlightened, just my third eye an immaculate lens
Watch valor get stolen by braggers portrayin' savage
But that money do magic through blood rites over change
Seen the root doctor with 20 dollars and golden grains
She said fightin' my own nature's like tryin' to smoke the rain

As always, I was mesmerized by D. Lanham’s lyricism here. I think the song is dope as hell. Track 2 is entitled Sick of Living, Loving Life. This track has a lighter, more melodic beat. It’s really jazzy. I think it’s a pretty awesome instrumental. I definitely like it more than that of the preceding track. The first verse from D. Lanham is pretty dope, and I even like the melodic hook on this track. The second verse is even better than the first one in my opinion.

Beef with my own species until the sun die
Men or homunculi, feel dead in what I occupy
Awkward third oculi, we don't see it the same
Past, present, future, the nexus seed is the brain
So my ancestors and my descendants dance in the rain
Not seein' ghosts, they as tangible as my frame
Perceive what you feel, power real as the elements
I don't fear the roots, nor fear modern medicine

I think I probably misquoted some of those lines, but it is what it is. Anyway, I actually like this song even more than the opening track. I think it’s dope as hell. Track 3 is entitled Game (Crazy), and it has another jazzy beat that sounds more like something J Dilla would produce. It’s honestly my favorite beat up to this point on the record. The first verse from D. Lanham is of course really great. I’m not really crazy about the sung hook on this track, but it’s not really bad. It’s definitely my least favorite aspect of the song, but I wouldn’t say it comes close to ruining the track or anything. My favorite aspect of the song is the production. I think Ronesh really stood out a lot here. The rapping is really great too though. Overall, I think the song is really dope. Track 4 is called Everything, and it’s one of the most exciting songs on the tracklist just because it features vocal performances from Ronesh & Mic Logik. It has another pretty chill, jazzy instrumental—one of my favorites on the album—and all three of the verses were really good. I was very pleasantly surprised by Ronesh’s performance, mainly because I still look at him as a producer first and rapper second. He did a great job on the mic here though.

Don't need the limelight, just need my mind right
The understanding that's required to separate eternity from finite
Long as I see my child grow to shine bright, I know in hindsight
I spent my time right, there's more to my life
On Earth than cheddar, but I'm chasin' money now
'Cause I ain't tryna work forever, funny how it make the world go round
Whether for worse or better, we play the game knowin' it's all a set up
Cali, we pray for rain while Georgia wish the storm would let up

Mic Logik probably had my favorite verse on the whole song to be honest. Well, I don’t know. I feel like my favorite verse changes every time I listen to the song. They all did a great job. I think the song’s dope as hell. It’s followed by another highlight called If Hell’s Below. I love the piano-driven production on this track; it’s easily one of my favorite beats on the album. D. Lanham of course killed the first verse too.

The only thing immortal is abyss
Think you seein' something ancient 'cause you starin' at a glyph
Reality no parachute, starin' off a cliff
Preparin' to take a leap, hopin' death is all there is
If Hell's below, we all gon' go
Folks on the moon while the arctic is meltin' snow

Ronesh actually killed the second verse too. I honestly think he might have had the better verse, which is something I never thought I’d say. Not that I don’t think he’s a dope rapper; I just wouldn’t have ever expected him to stand out more than D. Lanham. They both murdered this track though. This is definitely one of the best songs on the album in my opinion, despite the abrupt ending. I think it’s dope as hell. Track 6 is entitled Human 1, and it’s got another really smooth, jazzy beat. I actually feel like this song has one of D. Lanham’s best rap performances on the whole album to be honest.

Life everliving was a lie, but if you paid your ten percent for pearly gates
And wine rivers, you got game
If it's energy contained that connect us like a chain
From genetics causing links of buildings, towering terrain
Then everything above it in between creation links the same
See it vivid from our space, and from this tiny piece of frame
That this picture's so much bigger than our selfish view of death
Just be grateful for your space, and then share it with the next

I definitely misquoted at least one of those lines, but it is what it is. I tried my best. I really like the way this track is structured; he’s just rapping for like 3 minutes straight with no breaks. The more I listen to the song, the more I like it. It’s another one of my favorite tracks on the album. It’s followed by Human 2, which is even better in my opinion. I love the jazzy production on this track, and D. Lanham fucking murdered it.

Peg leg marauder, rum pump my aorta
My sweat 151, blue flame the aura
Shout to Carolina's own, miss my Carolina home
But the rotten peach ferment strong, eatin' my dome
Bootleg wine in the summertime fresh
Sittin' under shade tree, paralysis crept
Chalice get lower with less drink to reflect
Less focused to think, awake but in the depths
A cigarette drawn, a swisher filled to the brim
I lock it all away, I don't live with my sins
I lash out with rage, you put me under the lens
Been judged my whole life, executioners made attempts
Personal tragedy, scientifically detrimental
Callous often, heartbroken and sentimental
Steps back to being human, seemed incremental
Path to the Gods, roundabout, not sequential

I love how the beat doesn’t really drop until about halfway through the song. This song has some of the most personal lyricism on the album, which I appreciate. I think he slaughtered this track. It’s easily one of the best songs on the project in my opinion. I think it’s dope af. The penultimate track is entitled Don’t Fear the Reaper, and it has one of the most detailed instrumentals on the album. I could actually see someone like Conway the Machine rapping over this beat. It’s not super grimy or anything, but it has kind of an old school flair to it. As always, D. Lanham’s writing is top notch.

Critical dreams, everything repressed, we emerge
Sorting through my mind's records, pray I be less disturbed
I reflect on being reckless with words, violent with hands
I'm choosing peace and bruised pride, but you can die where you stand
Cut from a cloth, but who got the dye on their hands?
Light on the dark, it all stains, indica with my plants
We speak blueprints, but when man builds creators laugh
But at times I think my souls bars are made in my past

As a song, this track didn’t really blow me away like a lot of the others did. I of course appreciate the top tier writing and detailed production though. I think it’s a pretty dope track, but a memorable hook probably could’ve pushed it to the next level for me. The closing song is entitled RTD TRK 17, and it’s a pretty dark song from a lyrical standpoint. The beat is pretty cool, but it’s mainly the lyricism that stood out to me.

I quit doing drugs, but that was a stupid choice
Prefer singing to rap, but I got a stupid voice
Eyes moist while I palm this 9mm
Metal stick me to the wall like magnets to a freezer
My face hurts, I'm surprised I can rap this verse now
God mocking me personally just to burn it down
The closest thing that I get to love is apathy
'Cause people love me until I'm me actually

Again, the lyrics are very dark, but the production is really upbeat, so the song has a very lighthearted, fun tone. It’s inspired by Biggie‘s Suicidal Thoughts, hence the title. Just like with pretty much every other track on the album, the lyricism on this song had me hooked. I think it’s dope as hell.

This album is dope as hell. It’s pretty much exactly what I wanted. D. Lanham’s writing is as good as ever, and the jazzy production from Ronesh is the perfect backdrop. The features all came through with great performances as well. There’s not a single verse on this album that didn’t impress me. The production grows on me more and more with each listen too. I really don’t have any consistent gripes to be honest. I mean, this project doesn’t really have any super catchy, memorable hooks, but that’s not really the appeal in my opinion. The main selling point is the detailed production along with the poetic lyricism from D. Lanham. I always appreciate rappers who actually put effort into saying something unique. This album is just confirmation that Ronesh & D. Lanham are one of the best duos in the underground right now. I can’t wait to hear more. This is one of the best albums I’ve heard all year. Don’t sleep on it.

Favorite Song: Human 2
Least Favorite Song: Game (Crazy)


Grade: A-

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