Beats, rhymes, and braggadocio—these core elements form the basis of what comes to pass as hip-hop; the latter being just one aspect of many that differentiates the art form from other genres. Most rappers make it their prime M.O. to lose themselves in illusory worlds of Bentleys galore and bling. As a rule of thumb, if Tim McGraw pulled a Kendrick Lamar and called people out, his name might be left off a few industry party guest lists, but no fundamental repercussions would ensue. Boasts are just a part of the game, and even experimental MCs are not immune from dabbling in the my-life-is-better-than-yours arts.
But Deniro Farrar is a little different, and this has nothing to do with a ceiling missing from his whip. The Charlotte MC mostly values music for its therapeutic properties and utilizes it as a confessional soundboard to air out his ideas on about, well, just about everything. With a hefty voice that seems weighed down by a lifetime of hardship, Deniro’s content is less emo sob stories than brutally honest tales of reality. On his six-track Rebirth EP, Deniro takes fans much further into the shadowy abyss of his innermost thoughts.
The EP commences with creeping minimalist production on “Rebirth,” and functions as the perfect forum for Deniro to establish the dark ambiance of the music that follows—piercingly introspective flows that position the MC as the ultimate storyteller. The word “story” might be inaccurate however, as Deniro’s narrative comes across as too raw and detailed to be the result of a contrived effort to gain unearned sympathy, and even the most soulless person would find it exceedingly difficult to not feel some type of way in most instances, especially with lines like, “And my momma fuck with bitches now/I could judge her but I really can’t.”
Deniro is known for his audacious production, sometimes to his disadvantage, but “Hold On” is a shining example. Amid a flurry of contrasting sounds, the MC makes the beat an afterthought as he energetically vacillates between confessional raps and criticisms of the industry. And while the struggle is real, struggle bars are never an issue with Deniro, as he layers his raspy delivery with stout lyrical ejections one after the other.
A lot of critics mistakenly attach the “bipolar” label to Deniro wholly due to his depressing content. But to be technical, Deniro only seems to have one mood: anger. “Burning Bills,” featuring Lunice, is bred of this same species, and the MC lets it be known that he isn’t concerned with what the masses think about him. The hard-hitting Internet smash “Bow Down” comes equipped with the same sort of intensity and is amplified by the similarly high voltage raps of Denzel Curry.
“Late Nights” begins by posturing as a much needed break from the more depressing content, but Deniro once again blends his hopes of potential triumph with confessions about his issues in real time. Possibly due to the conditioned palates of consumers, one can’t help but desire for Deniro to branch out into less heavy subject matter. He has mastered his lane, sometimes to astonishing results, and could potentially shape up Top 40 charts if he were to try his hand in the commercial arena similar to lyrical-heavy guys like J. Cole and Kendrick Lamar.
But in this climate, beggars can’t be choosers, and most fans will wear permanent smiles if Deniro keeps releases music harkening back to his specialty. “Tired” comes equipped with severity of a man with a mission, and most importantly, caps off a very impressive EP. No doubt the next step for Deniro is to bless the fans with a feature length album building off the same elements that make Rebirth such an intriguing effort.—Kellan Miller