On his first tape, Hood Politics Vol. 1, Missouri City product Delo did one great thing ("Ghetto Boy"), one excessively beautiful thing ("Ain't My Style"), six good things ("Dream On," "Tell Me Mamma," "16 David," "Can I Live," "Hold On," "Money & Blood"), two bad things ("I Got Wings," "Hwy 288"), and 13 "This Song Shouldn't Be As Good As It Is, But I'm A Strong Enough Rapper To Make Something Sound Powerful When It Shouldn't" things (the rest).
This is known as the 2006 Kobe Bryant Corollary. Remember how Kobe made the 2006 Lakers look good solely on the strength of his individual efforts? That's exactly what was going on with Delo and those 13 songs. In this analogy, the production of "Money Drop" would be Chris Mihm.
Yes, that's a very specific summation that's likely to alienate all but Delo's most astute fans, but that's the kind of attention you should be paying to him.
The main criticism of Vol. 1 - and, really, it's more a criticism of the debut-mixtape dynamic - is that he hadn't yet found what type of music best served his purpose. At times, it sounded like he was groping around in the dark. He knew he had a general idea for his thesis statement, but he hadn't quite pinned it down.
What other way to explain a song that retorts "I'm feeling so fly, I think I got wings. I think I got wings. I think I got wings. I think I got wings, like the [Red Bull] commercial" on the same tape that contains one of the most compelling opening lines of any 2010 rap effort ("I'm just a ghetto boy, I'm just a ghetto boy, looking for the Raid in the back of the kitchen drawer")?
Jitters, is all.
On Vol. 2, released earlier this week, Delo has removed all but the smallest amount of fat. It is a charged, moving, occasionally aggressive tape. To wit:
- A clever track at the end of the tape, "Acknowledgement," manages to champion his own cause without ever doing it explicitly. (Charged)
- The most obvious example would be "Khloe," wherein he magnanimously discusses his insecurities as a young father to a baby girl, making all sorts of incredible admissions, including getting a blood test to confirm that he was the dad and arguing for an abortion during the pregnancy. (Moving)
- The opening track is called "AAAAAAAGGGGGHHHHHH." The fifth track ("One Shot") features a lift of Zack De La Rocha of Rage Against the Machine's geopolitical howl as the chorus and Delo rhetorically asking you're going to look after he politely shoots you in the face with a large gun. (Aggressive)
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Among other things, HP2 shows that Delo is capable of reading a defense as well as any of the New Houston Collective, but mostly it confirms what those who had bothered to listen to him have been saying since last year.
You cannot have the "Who's The Best Underground Rapper In Houston?" conversation without at least mentioning his name.