Album: Tha Takeover
Label: 3R Entertainment
Rating: 6.5 / 10
Reviewer: A to the L
Kenneth Elijah Sikes Jr €™s tale of his entrance into the world of Hiphop is almost identical to those of many artists in this industry whether they be signed or unsigned, known or unknown. A life in the streets promised little but jailtime and struggles until he began to make a little buzz in the Dallas scene and Hiphop offered an escape. It was a bittersweet moment though for the artist now known as D-Lou. Raised in Dallas, he and his family moved to Philly in 2002 when he was aged 15 years old, following the tragic death of his mother from a heart attack.
The Philly streets offered his only outlet in dealing with the stress €“ yet while he found temporary solace in freestyle battles and mix cds, these same streets also had a darker side which threatened to bring him down. To escape this, the family moved back to Dallas a year later, where D-Lou poured himself into his music and produced €œTha Takeover €, his debut release which features appearance from Big Tuck and Magno amongst others.
For the most part, €œTha Takeover € doesn €™t deviate from the standard Southern blueprint €“ most of the songs namecheck hoods, promise violence to haters, and speak heavily on the subject of money €“ all the while done over bass heavy, synth-driven beats. While its generally agreed (with a few exceptions) that Southern rap is a music-first / lyrics-second genre, it doesn €™t mean that the emcee is reduced to a bit part on the whole thing. Voice, delivery, and yes, lyrics all still play a major part in producing a Southern album with long-term enjoyment value. Here, while D-Lou is certainly not horrible on the mic, neither does he provide any performances to really make him stand out.
This doesn €™t mean of course that it €™s a wack album at all. Indeed, there are several tracks on €˜Tha Takeover €™ that are comparable to those of many more €˜established €™ artists. On the energetic opening track €˜3R Soldier €™, he tips his hat to the entertainment company that discovered him in a Dallas nightclub. Pledging to be a 3R soldier for life, he links up with Hogg from Scratchback over a marching band backing track reminiscent of Capone’s ‘U So Craaazzzy’. €˜Love Keeps €™ meanwhile is a sultry number where Lou spins tales of affection for the woman in his life, supported by a golden hook from Sielio (who also impresses on the later 2pac-esque €˜Keep Ya Head Up €™.)
The above tracks stand out, not just because of their overall quality, but also because they sound different to much of the remainder of the album which sticks to the original Southern program. And while €˜Makin €™ Money €™, €˜I Know €™, €˜Mob €™ and €˜Ameri Pie €™ all impress, clumsier tracks like €˜Walk With Me €™, Gangster Shit €™, Young & Dumb €™, and €˜Showin €™ Off €™ all remain firmly in filler terrority and quickly become skippable. It seems that in their attempts to produce an authentic ‘Southern-sounding’ album D-Lou and his main producers, Tim Hunt and DL Marshall have done that TOO well – it sounds like many other ‘Southern-sounding’ albums, and thus has contains nothing unique to truly separate it from the pack.
Overall D-Lou €™s debut, while patchy in places, shows that there is definitely some talent worth checking for, that might bubble up even moreso over more varied styles of production. Dorothy Lou Sikes can rest easy €“ her son is finally on the right path.