Dotz is a rap competitor – that cannot be denied. With the help of the legendary Si Phili, he recently dropped the track ‘Training For Battle Rap’, and that kind of combative spirit emanates throughout this new EP. A Jump Off champion and regular Don’t Flop competitor, the young Bedford emcee also approaches tracks with a punchline-orientated style. For the most part this works, giving the EP a flavour that is somewhere between comical and aggressive; on ‘I Ask’ he even suggests he “beats up rappers that are moister than a tea towel”. Very nice.
On introductory track ‘March Forth’, the stage is immediately set with dense imagery and strong multisyllabics. It feels like a demonstration of skill more than anything, and the sheer energy he brings to the mic automatically endears Dotz to the listener. This passion is most apparent on the autobiographical ‘Life of a Fool’ where his captivating flow, and abstract imagery, juxtaposes nicely with twinkling piano and what appears to be an old soul sample.
Of course, the counter effect of the breathless back-and-forth rhyming becomes apparent on repeat listens. Most of the punch-based imagery used is usually just condensed to a simile; ideas are jumped into but not explored with much depth. This is not an absolute downside, but a more conceptual approach to writing would elevate Dotz’ music greatly. He does dip into this on ‘Puke’ where he conveys a night out through stream-of-consciousness, allowing his wit to become a focal point.
I’m less convinced by ‘You’re Wrong’, which is over-saturated with ideas, not to mention the female hook is horribly out of place (it sounds like Kate Nash singing over 70s disco or something). I did also chuckle at the irony of ‘Still the Same’ where Dotz exclaims that “everyone’s a rapper now, it’s killed the game”, before explaining how he’s “not changed”, and rehashing the same anti-pop ethos that has been running through UK hip hop for the last ten years.
That is not to dismiss the talent he does clearly possess. Although he needs to develop his personality and songcraft, the dude can certainly spit. With his commanding presence and penchant for wordplay, I can see him following in the footsteps of the likes of Jehst if he finds the right producer. A fully formed album with something new to say would be the next step, and I eagerly await his next move.
Review by Jonathan Rimmer
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