Album Review | Doc Wattson – BARtending

This album was released on April 20th this year. Doc Wattson‘s collaborative album with Ronesh was one of my favorite albums of 2020, so I was definitely interested in seeing how he would follow it up. This latest project is fully produced by an artist named Iowa Rockwell, who was featured on Bonsai. I’ve only ever heard him rap though, so I don’t really know what to expect from the production. I’m sure the rapping will be great though. Or maybe it’ll suck, in which case I’ll be really disappointed. I don’t think that’s very likely though. We’ll see.

The album begins with an intro entitled Greetings Everybody in which Doc Wattson kinda talks about the history of his relationship with Iowa Rockwell. The sample-based production is really nice. It’s a pretty dope way to open the album up in my opinion. I mean, it probably would’ve been cool to hear someone rap over this beat since it’s such a good instrumental, but I’m cool with it as it is. I fuck with this track. The first real song is called Summer Livin’, and it features an artist named Uxmar Torres. The melodic hook from Doc Wattson is pretty solid, and his opening verse is really good.

It’s time to turn up like an early bird
I’ve got one to burn up, Rock’s already fired it up, let’s go search for worms
I ain't pecking and pawing, I got executive knowledge
I’ve been expressive since college, I count my blessings for all this

The saxophone that comes in during the hook sounds really nice. The second verse from Uxmar Torres is pretty impressive too. He kinda reminded me of no1mportant just because of his occasionally melodic delivery and his flow.

Doc Watts prescribed the psychedelic summertime Chi-Town
Cross town meeting of styles, so take a trip with us
We walk through the valley of the south side
Doing shadow work in search of something serendipitous
As the sun sets and the clouds glow all the street lights turn on and the guns blow
We only feel safe at home until we don't, what are we supposed to do?

I really dig the jazzy, kind of upbeat production from Iowa Rockwell. This track is dope. I fuck with it. The following song is called Distinctive Energy, and it features an artist named CRĀVE, who performed the first verse. I actually really like his bizarre, spaced out flow.

Part phantom, part icon
I'm my own idol, I'm all atoms like ions
Try on boots to crush snakes like mighty python
Talk ish Babylon blow smoke like iron Mike Tyson
Trying to make a dime out a penny
Trying to make a rhyme, y'all ain't ready
Trying to make it to the shift on time, CTA broke
Left me tryna make weight for the fight, I'm too heavy

The hook is pretty simplistic, but it serves its purpose as a break between the verses well. Doc Wattson killed this shit too. He had a whopping EIGHT-syllable rhyme scheme going for the majority of his verse.

Watts & CRĀVE paint the settlements, pictures in bold hues
Use the lacquer as accelerant, lit 'til it glow blue
Watts charges clear impediments, get what the volts do
All the ashes raked to sediment, shift as I blow through
Assalamualaikum brethren, peace is my go to
Dude I’m so chill, I’m sledding in, rocking the snow suit
Keeping my soul tuned to everything, this shit is soulful
Root my legacy in Evanston, but if anyone's asking I’m repping the 'go, boo

I really like the piano-driven production on this track too. My favorite aspect of the song is definitely Watts’ verse, but everyone who contributed to this song did a really good job. I think it’s a dope track, and it actually grew on me with repeat listens. Track 4 is an instrumental interlude entitled Flow with the Current. It’s a really pretty beat that incorporates a nice harp loop. Much like the preceding track, this song grew on me with repeat listens. I think it’s dope. It’s followed by WWID, which is one of the better songs on the album in my opinion. I guess it can be considered a love song, but it’s not too sappy. I think it’s a genuinely romantic track—particularly during the second verse.

Little person following my little path
Strutting silly like no ones watching, splashed
You threw out all your plans to take a chance
On something unexpected, this mans
I took you all in, I swam, I drank you down in drams
Your cup is ever flowing, I'm nourished, I’m healing...
Bringing more of myself to have and hold you

I think this song probably has my favorite hook on the album, and I really like the melodic production from Iowa Rockwell too. It’s a dope track. The following song is called The World of a Thousand NOs. This track’s got one of my favorite beats on the album. The slow-paced hook is pretty decent, and the first verse is fire. His flow was really nice.

Chopping the carrot and onion up
The rest’ll depend where you coming up
Chicanos will throw a poblano in
Or celery, give the mirepoix a spin
Sauté it, just don’t overheat the roux
Put bass in it, give it that peek-a-boo
Embrace all the flavors that's eking through
All day I cook up unbelievable

I appreciate how he completely switched up his flow for the second verse. I think the slow-paced hook kinda hinders the momentum of this track, but aside from that I fuck with this song. It’s good. The penultimate track is called Doc’s Lament, and it’s got a relatively strange structure. It’s just one verse from Doc Wattson, and each couplet is separated by an unusual amount of time. I personally appreciate how different this track is from the other songs on the album. I think Iowa Rockwell flipped the same sample that Harry Fraud used for The Rockers by Action Bronson. The beat is pretty dope. I love Watts’ rapping on this track too. This might actually be the most well-written verse on the whole album.

We’ve held these truths self evident then had to measure 5ths
And speak in clever riffs 'bout how we keep our feathers clipped to feel accepted

I love the political content of this track, and the saxophone that comes in after the verse is superb. I actually think this is one of the best songs on the album. It’s really dope. The closing track is easily my favorite song on the album though. It’s called Daywalkin’, and it’s got my favorite beat on the whole album. It kinda sounds like a Hip Hop version of something that’d appear on a Kingdom Hearts soundtrack. I love it. Doc Wattson fucking killed the first verse too. I think this song has some of the best rapping on the whole album.

Beat's diabolic, synced to my diastolic
Titrate the dialogue, you might call me a micaholic
Better than alchie, but a stranger on the top of most
Balki Bartokomous, I’m perfect when I drop a flow
Wattson concoct a poem from the outermost stretches of my consciousness
Scraping out the chowder bowl

This song’s got a pretty nice, fast-paced hook too. The second verse is performed by an artist named Know Sage, who’s a member of Doc Wattson’s Daywalkerz crew. His verse was pretty good, although nowhere near as impressive as that of Watts in my opinion. I still enjoyed it though. Again, this is easily my favorite song on the album. I think it’s dope as hell.

This album is really damn good. There’s not a single track here that I don’t enjoy. Doc Wattson is really no joke on the mic. He’s gotta be one of my favorite Chicago rappers in the underground right now, which is saying a lot because between guys like Defcee, SolarFive, and IAMGAWD, he’s got some really stiff competition. I just love the way he writes though. Iowa Rockwell’s production here is really good too. I thoroughly enjoyed every beat on this project. I think Doc Wattson outrapped every feature on this album honestly, but none of them were bad at all. They were actually all quite good. It’s just that Doc Wattson is so advanced that it’s probably hard for others to keep up with him. I honestly think he’s a special MC. I’ve loved everything I’ve heard from him so far, and I look forward to hearing more in the future. This shit is dope. Check it out.

Favorite Song: Daywalkin’
Least Favorite Song: The World of a Thousand NOs


Grade: B

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