28 Oct 2020
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Dharmarat - Album Review: Belial

16 Oct 2020 // A review by Sam Verlinden
Southside based artist, producer, lyricist, utility creative, prolific output man AKA Dharmarat (Adam Tukiri) is a name worth entangling yourself with. He’s prolific in every sense of the word. I read somewhere that he’s been involved in over 20 projects.


From diving into his discography, I developed a great sense of admiration for his craft. He’s consistent, authentic and talented. These are traits that make themselves apparent in his most recent project - titled
Belial. Buzzy name, here’s the google definition: Belial is a term occurring in the Hebrew Bible which later became personified as the devil in Jewish and Christian texts. Spooky stuff.

However, the project is not spooky - but rather hard-hitting, bouncy, punchy and tough, a real underground hip-hop energy. The sort of project you jam in the car with your boys and turn up the treble and bass so that it hurts a little bit but not too much. There’s some evident influences throughout, the works of Ameer Vann, Dera Meelan and Deadforest spring to mind. Thematically there’s recurring themes such as the come-up, self-belief, authenticity and doubt. It seems he produced the project in full also…. Madness.

It kicks off with Buzzy Kunt, a house inspired, alternative hip-hop jam which has a neat swagga to it. The main loop is a piercing distorted guitar sound (I think?). Well produced and well mixed (pitch bended vocals) - it really compliments Dharmarat’s flow and lyricism as an introspective reflective piece. I can see this song popping off at shows.

Party Like Hell is a nice follow-up, featuring a haunting and devious piano loop, rattling high-hats, down-beat 808’s and a powerful kick - it all provides a nice canvas for Dharmarat to Party Like Hell over.

The next two tracks are my personal favourites on the project. Love Me is an auto-tune hip-hop/house ballad, probably the biggest risk on the project, and one that I’m happy he committed to. Dharmarat expresses his independence and remarks “Love me, why don’t you love me?” There's an abundance of auto-tune which is both playful, intriguing and adds a lot of character to the project.

Following this is GEEWHIZZ (which I assume is the main single of the project), reminiscent of Ameer Vann’s Emmanuel, a striking stabbing 808 sits at the forefront of the beat while Dharmarat laments “With so much drama in the AKL, who the f___ got you when they say they down.” It’s fire, and the visual is cool too and well executed (Conor Pritchard with the edit and direction). As always the production and mixing is tight and clean. However, I do wish he played around with faster flows and vox bites.

Other high points include Ineverrun! (would shut down shows lol), ROAM ft. Elder - a reflective piece “How I done it, I am coming, for mine”. It’s a mellow energy that places emphasis on Dharmarat’s perspective. And finally, 2021, again a reflective piece as Dharmarat looks back upon his catalogue and life as an emcee in the NZ scene, critical and insightful, penned under an R&B inspired boombap style beat.

A handful of features including Deadforest, .95 and a Wo Daisy remix (with a beautiful-ass string outro) also contribute to Belial, an overall very impressive project by a hard-working and talented man (seems to embody the full independent).

It does have the tendency to drag for a bit (35 minute + run time) and my attention would sway during the middle parts of the project as the loops can be a touch repetitive. I hope Dharmarat continues to take more risks with his vocals, concepts and delivery. However, I am a fiend for vocal melody so maybe that’s just a pallet thing. If you’re a fan of bKIDD, Lukan Raisey, Diggy Dupe, Deadforest, Ameer Vann, OG Tyler, Ranui Marz or Brockhampton, you’ll likely find a track (or several) that you resonate with.

Belial is a well-produced, well mixed and well performed hip-hop project, adding another notch to the belt of the prolific Mr Tukiri. Well done Dharmarat, I look forward to your next move.

Rating: ( 4 / 5 )
 

About Dharmarat

Dharmarat (Adam Tuwhai Tukiri) is a hard-working rapper and producer from South Auckland who has created quite a name for himself, through his hard-hitting beats to his unforgiving delivery in his music. He pulls the listener in with his perspective on life and relentless aggression on his more upbeat music. There is just as much range in his discography as he has projects under his belt, having released 21 projects if you include his work with his group Valleyside Boys.

An artist like Dharmarat never disappoints when it comes to a show, having shared lineups with the likes of Eno x Dirty, Melodownz and many more. In 2017 he was a part of Red Bulls’ 64 Bars series in which he was hand-picked by Hip-Hop legend David Dallas to rap for a few minutes straight.

With respect from all the Hip Hop giants he is definitely ‘next up’ and will give 110% to everything he is a part of.

Visit the muzic.net.nz Profile for Dharmarat

Releases

Belial
Year: 2020
Type: Album
WLKNZ
Year: 2019
Type: Album

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