Music

Da Poet: Poetika

Turkey's current reigning king of underground hip-hop waxes poetic on his proper commercial debut, a set of grippingly dark and emotionally-charged numbers that depict the bleaker side of the human condition.


Da Poet

Poetika

Label: On Air
US Release Date: 2011
UK Release Date: Import
Amazon
iTunes

Born Ozan Erdoğan, Da Poet has been making remarkable progress in Turkey’s still flourishing hip-hop community, earning a massive and devoted following amongst the Turkish youth and winning plaudits for his skills behind the mic and at the mixing board. At a mere 24-years old, the rapper has accomplished almost twice as much as his American counterparts have, with already six albums under his belt in the last seven years and playing more than 150 shows across Turkey in his beginning years. Starting out as just a teen on the scene cutting beats and spitting verse, the hopeful upstart soon blossomed into a prodigious mastermind, a hip-hop head laying down tracks as early as sixteen and going on to become one of the most hotly-tipped go-to producers to ever emerge from Turkey’s small but growing hip-hop circles. Having surfaced from Istanbul’s underground hip-hop scene, Da Poet lays down his first proper commercial release, Poetika, an expertly-crafted collection of tunes that blazes with caustic street-smarts, unobstructed passion and a cold, unforgiving delivery of tightly-wound rhymes.

In the 14 tracks featured on Poetika, the young rapper finds a precarious balance between social unrest and emotional dissonance, these polemically-charged numbers fueled by the fires of misspent youth. His Turkish raps may present a language barrier to those outside his homeland but the precision and cadence with which he imparts his verbal flow will be understood by all. Musically, the album showcases an East-meets-West potential, with a strong and clear understanding and appreciation of American hip-hop underscored by an unmistakably Turkish bent (despite there being very little traces of actual Turkish music).

In Da Poet’s blue-tinted world of permanent midnight, beats skitter and slam through a nocturnal cityscape of sound, where sonic ghosts haunt the deserted, lonely streets. An air of anxiety pervades the album and almost every track unfolds like a dark drama in the shadowy back alleys of Istanbul. From the fog-like atmospherics of the searching intro to the rest of the self-produced cuts, the rapper shows off his skills as a sound architect, splicing an array of eerie samples into the crevices of his rock-hard beats. Check out the loop of watery percussion amidst the swirls of Turkish strings on "Ayağa Kalk" or the sampled guitar riffs that streak across "Avcumda Ritmin Kalp Atışları" like cirrus clouds in a twilit sky. Neither obtrusive nor slight, the samples melt right into the fabric of the production, pushing around a euphonic flow of sounds inside the locked-in grooves. Meanwhile, the anvil bass-drops and thunderous plod of the reggae-tronic "Again" momentarily derail the album’s velocity for a dub-dream drift through electro-space.

For all of its varied tempos and rhythms, Poetika never loses its consistency, keeping a tuned ear on the sphinx-like ambience that permeates the beat-mutations. On "Halüsinasyon", Da Poet and fellow Turkish rapper Saian exchange hurried rhymes, the two unwinding spools of lyrical thread over a bare-boned, metronomic beat. "Neyim Var Benim" gets dubstepped, the drum loop rolling over layers of droning synths that splinter like shattered nerves. There are plenty of creepy turns on Poetika that betray a sense of filmic grandeur. Much of the album is suffused with the shadows and fog of an old black-and-white film. The atmosphere of dread is especially pronounced on the Euro-rinsed electronica of "Dur Dünya", with the moody, cinematic spread of organ swells lending the track a sense of panic and danger. Enveloped in an air of menace and mystery, these numbers play like an emotional thriller, with Da Poet trading on his ability to manipulate tension and release in the structures of his drum patterns. The airs of gloom briefly disperse on the intense battle raps of "Hip-Hop" (an impassioned one-to-one with rapper Hayki about Turkey’s inception of hip-hop culture), and the aggravated lyrical assault of "Organiztsa", a chest-thumper which pits the rapper against a roundtable of Istanbul’s hip-hop elite.

The hyperreality of urban life rendered on Poetika is perfectly captured in the painted artwork of the album cover (a pastiche of the skewed Expressionistic portraits created by Ernst Ludwig Kirchner). Awash in the green glow of night, Da Poet stares off into a labyrinthine city of snaking roads and twisted buildings, eyes painted out and seemingly dead to the world. Here, in the solitary chill of these 14 numbers, the Turkish wordsmith and beatmaker graffitis the album with the images of urban decay, armed with only his rhymes and an MPC sampler -- and an unfettered passion that powers them both.

8

In the wake of Malcolm Young's passing, Jesse Fink, author of The Youngs: The Brothers Who Built AC/DC, offers up his top 10 AC/DC songs, each seasoned with a dash of backstory.

In the wake of Malcolm Young's passing, Jesse Fink, author of The Youngs: The Brothers Who Built AC/DC, offers up his top 10 AC/DC songs, each seasoned with a dash of backstory.

Keep reading... Show less

Pauline Black may be called the Queen of Ska by some, but she insists she's not the only one, as Two-Tone legends the Selecter celebrate another stellar album in a career full of them.

Being commonly hailed as the "Queen" of a genre of music is no mean feat, but for Pauline Black, singer/songwriter of Two-Tone legends the Selecter and universally recognised "Queen of Ska", it is something she seems to take in her stride. "People can call you whatever they like," she tells PopMatters, "so I suppose it's better that they call you something really good!"

Keep reading... Show less

Morrison's prose is so engaging and welcoming that it's easy to miss the irreconcilable ambiguities that are set forth in her prose as ineluctable convictions.

It's a common enough gambit in science fiction. Humans come across a race of aliens that appear to be entirely alike and yet one group of said aliens subordinates the other, visiting violence upon their persons, denigrating them openly and without social or legal consequence, humiliating them at every turn. The humans inquire why certain of the aliens are subjected to such degradation when there are no discernible differences among the entire race of aliens, at least from the human point of view. The aliens then explain that the subordinated group all share some minor trait (say the left nostril is oh-so-slightly larger than the right while the "superior" group all have slightly enlarged right nostrils)—something thatm from the human vantage pointm is utterly ridiculous. This minor difference not only explains but, for the alien understanding, justifies the inequitable treatment, even the enslavement of the subordinate group. And there you have the quandary of Otherness in a nutshell.

Keep reading... Show less
3

A 1996 classic, Shawn Colvin's album of mature pop is also one of best break-up albums, comparable lyrically and musically to Joni Mitchell's Hejira and Bob Dylan's Blood on the Tracks.

When pop-folksinger Shawn Colvin released A Few Small Repairs in 1996, the music world was ripe for an album of sharp, catchy songs by a female singer-songwriter. Lilith Fair, the tour for women in the music, would gross $16 million in 1997. Colvin would be a main stage artist in all three years of the tour, playing alongside Liz Phair, Suzanne Vega, Sheryl Crow, Sarah McLachlan, Meshell Ndegeocello, Joan Osborne, Lisa Loeb, Erykah Badu, and many others. Strong female artists were not only making great music (when were they not?) but also having bold success. Alanis Morissette's Jagged Little Pill preceded Colvin's fourth recording by just 16 months.

Keep reading... Show less
9

Frank Miller locates our tragedy and warps it into his own brutal beauty.

In terms of continuity, the so-called promotion of this entry as Miller's “third" in the series is deceptively cryptic. Miller's mid-'80s limited series The Dark Knight Returns (or DKR) is a “Top 5 All-Time" graphic novel, if not easily “Top 3". His intertextual and metatextual themes resonated then as they do now, a reason this source material was “go to" for Christopher Nolan when he resurrected the franchise for Warner Bros. in the mid-00s. The sheer iconicity of DKR posits a seminal work in the artist's canon, which shares company with the likes of Sin City, 300, and an influential run on Daredevil, to name a few.

Keep reading... Show less
8
Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

© 1999-2017 Popmatters.com. All rights reserved.
Popmatters is wholly independently owned and operated.

rating-image