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culture

Sound Advice: Raging Bull by D-Sisive and Tone Mason

D-Sisive returns to his old name with a new ferocity.

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Saying a D-Sisive record is dark is kind of like saying water is wet. If you’re surprised, we’re just not sure what you were expecting.

That said, his latest EP, Raging Bull, takes things to a new level of bleak anger. The release is produced by Grammy-nominated production team Tone Mason, and is his first record under the D-Sisive moniker in over a year. (He retired the name in late 2012, and has since released an album under his real name—Derek Christoff—as well as a series of singles as SHIT!)

Raw honesty has become one of D-Sisive’s trademarks as a rapper, and it’s in ample supply on Raging Bull. On “ThoughtsFromanOfficeCubicle,” he talks about his frustration at the fact that his critical acclaim hasn’t translated to commercial success. This isn’t new territory for him; he’s done it before, in Jonestown 2’s “If…,” for example. What’s different this time, though, is that there’s a level of desperation creeping in. He’s not just sad and pissed off—he’s daydreaming about committing robbery to pay his phone bill. On “Derek Sanderson,” he explains his return to the D-Sisive name, acknowledging that, as a rapper, he may always be saddled with a name he thought was cool when he was 17. This is a record about struggling, but it’s also a record about refusing to quit. Like a boxer who refuses to accept a standing eight count, D-Sisive may have been knocked around by the rap game, but on every single track, he reaffirms that he’s not ready to give up.

While the content may be even darker than before, Raging Bull is a shining beacon of light when it comes to rap form. We’ve always been big fans of D-Sisive, but in the last year or so, he’s really hit new heights as an MC. “Derek Sanderson” also touches on D-Sisive’s unwillingness to dumb down his rhymes to become more accessible, and if anything, it sounds like he’s opting to double down on cleverness. Not only is his delivery more urgent, but his bars seem to have more syllables than ever, necessitating ever-more-complex rhyme schemes.

Tone Mason’s production is nothing short of amazing. The big, cinematic beats are lush and sample heavy and meant for intensive headphone listening. They are, in short, what you’d expect from three guys who have been nominated for Grammys. Every listen uncovers a new layer of beats and hidden melodies.

By any name, D-Sisive is still not only one of the city’s best rappers, but one of its best musical acts, period. Raging Bull proves that’s not about to change any time soon.

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