We have here a real special treat for your earholes; Ouija Slang, a sinister and exceptional piece of work from Jack Danz. For those who may be unaware, I feel sorry, and thus a brief introduction follows.
This is the first full-length solo LP from Leeds-based wordsmith and beatsmith, Defenders of Style representative Jack Danz a.k.a D-Boogie a.k.a D-Boogaloo a.k.a Officer Danz. With a sizeable handful of projects with Defenders of Style, Lego and a short solo venture titled The Dhalsim Boogie, this 10-track offering is most welcome and something I personally have been looking forward to.
Ouija Slang is Danz’s first release on Bad Taste Records, having previously featured on ‘North Luna’ from Bad Taste OGs Trellion and Sniff. Alongside the veteran swegboss and long time satirist you already know; Lee Scott, Ouija Slang features Swish, out of another ill Leeds-based crew; The Northaze. As well as guest lyricists we see two instances of guest production, one beat from the eerie-production specialist Morriarchi and another from Tha Office DJ and producer Prolific. The rest of the beats are crafted by Danz himself, whose style of production is distinct and unique, making for an inevitably neck-snapping album.
This album is amazing. Obviously this isn’t all there is to it but if you’re looking for a four word, one sentence review then that would be it. Danz has bars like few else, and his uninterruptible flow is truly astounding. The album is saturated with ingenious similes, some of which you only notice after several listens, and Danz’s signature lethargic drawl is on point as ever. It’s such an impressive combination of precisely accurate rhymes and a slurring but consistently rhythmic delivery. The well constructed rhymes are perforated with original and often amusing similes; “kid i got tons of bars for the onlookers, known to shut the place down like it’s blockbusters”.
Eery and creepy beats are a staple in UK hip-hop, but the samples used in this album are so eery, it’s like being serenaded alone by an anthropomorphised, haunted, old music room full of poltergeists. Some samples sound akin to creaking old pipes and broken woodwind instruments, this is backed with hard hitting but slowed kicks, and several vocal samples that sound like they’ve come from 1940’s American horror radio stories.
Every track is solid, but some stand out to me, particularly ‘Wind Up Merchant’.The beat is fat and bars are obese, Danz describes how he’s “got the groupies’ praise, but they lost on some Phileas Fogg, while me I keep the team connected like Sicilian Mob”. Other rhymes are simpler, but just as inventive; “Iive from your router, lives go missing like a flight to Bermuda”. This originality and adherence to the beat are things he manages to maintain on every track and with astonishing accuracy: “So put it all in the air, know the camera is recording all your sordid affairs, co-ordinates bare the trail you left in all your despair, connect the dots and mark your spot, take all the ornaments there”.
Another favourite of mine is Sanctuary Steps, featuring Swish. This might be my favourite just because of the classic Danz hook; “rolling through your city every motherf**ker with me, kiddas getting dizzy off a two-bun on that ziggy”. The track also features a slightly more fast-paced beat for Danz to adapt his flow to, which he does with ease, accompanied by a sample closely resembling the sound of a clanging bell in an old parish church. Swish’s verse is huge too, busting out wordplay about “psychedelicacies” and “the sermon on the bluntsmount”.
Of course the Lee Scott feature is straight up buttery sweg, Lee and Danz is a collaboration I wish had happened sooner but now it’s here, it’s as good as I expected. Lee is “robbing clubbers blind while they’re drunk and high” and “snatches the fattest slice of humble pie, like how good am I?” The last track on the album, produced by Prolific, takes a much more chilled out and uplifting approach to production, enabling Danz to easily bounce his syllables around one of the smoothest and simplest beats I’ve heard. Jack Danz has a pretty distinct style, both with his production and his lyrics. It’s refreshing to hear a full body of work from him, with just the right amount of features to keep it undiluted and cohesive.
If you’ve heard Danz’s work before, you knew what to expect: more of the same but better, and more refined. If you haven’t heard Danz’s work before, check out his back catalogue of equally skilfully prepared concoctions. You can find the relevant links for Jack Danz and Bad Taste below, don’t forget to support the artists and big up the scene.