The Donner Party is more than just the new album from the duo of rapper-producer Deca and producer Neon Brown; it’s an audio feast for the ears. Equal parts film noir and Boom bap, there’s so much to uncover and unpack in this record’s eight tracks that twist and turn through Deca’s intricate verses and the pairs shared dusty approach to production.
Vocally, The Donner Party centers on the sharp rhymes of Deca, whose in-the-pocket bars are immediately satisfying to the ear and come alive when you dive into his lyrics. That’s particularly true on a track like “Charlie’s Fix,” a humorous tale about an aspiring musicians addiction to audio equipment and vinyl. Opening track “Donner Bell” is just as satisfying, with it’s tongue-in-cheek cannibalistic wordplay and social commentary.
The lyrics and longer vocal samples are inspired by what Deca says is an idea that “humanity is blindly forging ahead with no real regard for the consequences of our actions.” As he explains, we’ve all been bred this way—to be good consumers—and the architects of society are figuring out the most efficient ways to manipulate our perception of the world. “I think there’s a deep hunger for meaning, connection, substance, and real sustenance in our culture and not many places to find it,” he adds. “When we can’t find it we eat what we’re fed.”
For all its lyrical dexterity and complexity, The Donner Party is super-approachable thanks to the production, which was crafted by both Deca and Neon Brown. Their friendship and appreciation for the other’s work shines through in how well they collaborate on here, including the hazy single for the album titled “Wendigo” that they pieced together as a team.
Those familiar with Deca and Neon Brown have likely heard the two swapping features on their most recent projects, but it’s much deeper than that. They’ve actually known each other since around 1996. Despite losing touch for years they thankfully reconnected and put together this raw, modern mini-masterpiece.
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