Don’t Sleep | Defcee & Messiah Musik – Trapdoor

Don’t sleep on this latest collaborative album by MC Defcee & producer Messiah Musik. As soon as this project was announced, it became one of my most anticipated releases of the year. Defcee has quickly become one of my favorite writers in the industry over the past 24 months, and I’ve been a fan of Messiah Musik ever since I first discovered his production through his work with Armand Hammer. This project also has features from a lot of artists that I really like, such as Alaska & Curly Castro. Since this isn’t really a full review, I’ll just write about some of my favorite highlights, but it should be noted that there’s not a single track on the album that I don’t like to some extent.

The album begins with a highlight entitled Rabbi & the Golem. I really love the dark, yet melodic, jazzy production. Defcee of course murdered it too. His writing is fantastic. One other aspect of his work that I feel like I haven’t shown enough love to is his voice. The dude just sounds amazing on a beat. I love the writing on the first verse from Defcee.

Brilliant advice: earn affirmation rather than expecting it
Rappers crying for mentions like we're the parents who neglected 'em
Now look, the latter is a legitimate issue to address
And the former's a matter of being insignificant in the press
Was depressed for the same reasons, then I made 25
I killed my self saboteur, and the rest of me came alive
Pride or integrity; pick one, and stick with it
The time comes, you could sacrifice either in triplicate

The second verse is performed by an artist named Henry Canyons, who I’ve only heard on features in the past. I really enjoyed his verse on this track though. Defcee definitely had my favorite performance, but they both did a great job. Messiah Musik of course did a fantastic job with the production as well. The next highlight for me is called Compassion, and it’s the first solo track on the project. The production on this track elicits the image of a jungle at night. Both of the verses from Defcee are incredibly well-written too, especially the second one.

Deepfaked dreamscapes, imaginations freebased
Still starved for all the safe spaces that these creeps ate
Emcees on the cheese chase; bad backs, feet ache
Got us rollin' out another tape in case the lease breaks

The song’s got a really straightforward structure. It didn’t really throw any surprises at me. Everything is just really well done. The writing is fantastic, and I really dig the production. The song’s dope as hell. Track 6 is called Snares, and it has one of my favorite instrumentals on the album. I’ve never really been great at describing production, so I don’t really know how to explain what makes this beat so good for me. All I can say is that it just sounds really fucking great. It gets stuck in my head every time I listen to it. The first verse is super well-written too.

Never learn from the fortunes in our palms under blood stains
Sayin' “we’ll get there one day,” never leavin' the runway
The difference between wisdom and fear is a tucked chain
Look at the sadomasochistic games Lady Luck plays

I like the relatively fast pace of the hook, and the second verse is just as good, if not better than the first verse.

Chickens home to roost, but big business owns the coops
Totin' Tonton Macoute, Facebook and Google recruit
Voting booth rubber stamps on the status quo we’re livin' in
Respect is just the minimum; the debt is ad infinitum
White supremacy’s an illness we’ve passed
Onto children, and still refuse to shield 'em with masks
Powers move the pieces as we fight to a stalemate
It’s cold at the bottom and there’s ice on the staircase

There’s not a single aspect of the song that I don’t love. I think the track is dope af. The next highlight for me is entitled Shortcuts. It was the most exciting song on the tracklist for me just because it features PremRock & Armand Hammer. Each MC had a great performance. However, I actually think Defcee had the best verse. He had a super impressive five-syllable rhyme scheme going at one point.

Entrapment the plot: ten racks in a drop
Deck stacked in a box, stepback with the shot
Chef’s hat and a wok, legs latched to a lock
Public defender like, “You wanted to gamble with your life?
Well, you had a better chance throwin' headcracks on the block”

PremRock had a really nice verse too. Of course billy woods & Elucid did a great job as well. The production doesn’t stand out on this one as much to me as it does on others, but it’s still a pretty good beat overall. I think the song is dope as hell as a whole. This track is immediately followed up by yet another highlight for me entitled Fifty. One reason I love this song so much is because of the dark, chaotic, weird ass production. The beat kinda sounds unlike anything I’ve heard before. I can’t really tell if it’s melodic or not. I mean, there’s definitely a dark ass melody hidden in there somewhere, but it’s kinda hard to grasp onto. It’s just a really noisy-sounding instrumental, so it’s kinda hard to make out the melody, but I think that works to the song’s benefit. Apart from the production, I also think this song features some of the best rapping on the whole album. I appreciate the straightforward structure of the song, and Defcee’s writing is absolutely beautiful here.

Let my city remember me like I lived there
My slang fit ears like a splinter, so when I speak I watch my mama’s skin tear
Kick a rhyme, and it moves like winter air
My thinnest years were spent in suits that didn't fit me
Scared of dyin like my friends or family or teachers or students
Grim Reaper might not touch you yet, but he’s mentally abusive
My eyes were ruins, I cried and shook my shoulders through it
My girl rubbed the back of my neck, mourning's what I'm used to overdoin'
Smoke polluting my living room, lit a fuse and the hallway flooded with litter fumes
Letter from my superintendent, she’s tellin' me to quit the booze
I hope my shouting wasn't the music my neighbors listened to

I think it’s another one of the best songs on the album to be honest. I have no issues with it. I think it’s dope af. The following track is another highlight called Small Comforts. It’s got one of the prettiest instrumentals on the album, and, once again, I was super impressed by the eloquent writing from Defcee.

Rollin up sleeves, writin these songs with a scalpel from thorax to groin
Stuck in the talk 'bout the talk, until we off fishing for beef just to throw back the point
Ironic how they tried to keep themselves together by burnin' they bones after joints
Ironic I felt so much happier back when I considered Prozac a choice
Anger was like an attack dog, didn’t let go once it latched on
If you start strippin' the violence out of these rhymes what’s left is a sad song
My life in the deck; started prayin' the dealer had ran outta bad cards
At my happiest furious, backwards, unworthy, and writin' the words in these raps wrong

The second verse is just as pretty as the first one. My only gripe with the song is the incredibly abrupt ending, but that’s just a nitpick. I think the song’s dope as hell overall. The last track I wanna talk about is the closing song, Post. I really love the kind of somber, melodic production from Messiah Musik, and Defcee fuckin’ killed this track. I loved the DOOM references in the opening verse.

I’m heading back to life as mornings blanket drafty nights
Thinkin' through decision-making, playlist full of bad advice
Headphones slippin' over hats, elastic on my mask is tight-
-er than how DOOM would grab the mic, shit is classic, right?
First show post-plague, I’m sending an imposter
The best Def impression gets attendance requested at the Oscars
Monsters pretend “defenseless,” press the desperate for their coffers
Now I’m on the first Metra back to work, and I’m bothered

The way this dude writes is just mesmerizing to me. The whole song is dope as hell.

This album is really great. It’s definitely one of the best albums that I’ve heard from the month of November, which is saying a lot. I think this is a really good follow-up to Defcee’s project with August Fanon. This project feels more abstract, and has a lot more features, and the production isn’t quite as jazzy. None of those things are necessarily good or bad. They’re just differences. Anyway, I really don’t have any consistent gripes with this project at all. I think Defcee killed all of his verses, and I love the strange production from Messiah Musik. This project was a major success, and I can’t wait to see what both of these guys do in the future, whether it’s together or separately. Don’t sleep on this project. It’s really dope.

Favorite Song: Snares
Least Favorite Song: Time Off


Grade: B+

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