By Jose Mujica
Cover photo: Drew Kocak
November 15, 2018
If you’ve walked around Plaza or NoDa at all in the last year you’re likely to have seen more than one flyers with the words “PHAZE GAWD” plastered somewhere across them. The Charlotte rapper has become a somewhat regular headliner in local showcases, performing in venues like Snug Harbor and Crown Station. More recently, he’s been organizing shows himself such as the Bars, Brews and Bands Blocktoberfest at Unknown Brewery, where he performed alongside a stacked lineup featuring local legend, Deniro Farrar. Unafraid of the grind and hustle, it’s clear to see that Phaze Gawd is fully invested in his craft. That genuine belief in himself and his work shines through in his music and live shows; his energetic performances incorporate a healthy amount of crowd participation, bursts of smoke, and spitfire flows that pause just long enough for a punchline to hit.
His latest project Dark Dreams EP, released alongside long-time collaborator, A Man With Antlers (AMWA), dropped earlier this year. Dark Dreams featured slower-tempo and more melodic production than the duo’s previous efforts. While Phaze Gawd still came with the heavy bars over heavy bass, such as in the song “Right Now,” the overall tone of the project was softer and somber. A significant departure from their 2016 effort, OhDeerGawd!, which featured much more rap-centric songs that highlighted the rapper’s lyricism and catchy hooks. If you’re curious as to whether this marked a permanent change in style for the pair, you’ll be reassured by Phaze Gawd’s announcement of OhDeerGawd2!, characterized as a return to form for the duo boasting the bouncy, hype tracks that made its’ predecessor a success.
The first single titled “D’usse” has Phaze Gawd opening with a cool and relaxed delivery over wind-chime synths and rattling hi-hats that blossom and creak over a booming bass drum that comes crashing in like a tidal wave. Phaze Gawd illustrates the life he leads as he raps, “D’usse in my solo/ Whip all black like Mr. Popo” a reference to the Dragonball Z character, Mr.Popo, whose racialized depiction in the ‘80s Japanese anime would be considered highly problematic in modern context. The song proceeds with Phaze Gawd effortlessly riding the beat with a bouncy flow typically found in the genre’s new cloud trap sound. Then it breaks down into double-time verses that traverse the traditional topics of juggling a love life and an aspiring artistic career while navigating a hostile world fun of critics, naysayers and sycophants before looping back into the infectious hook. All in all, the track is fun and enjoyable though nothing ground-breaking or as experimental as anything on Dark Dreams, but it’s enough to pique fans’ attention and whet the appetite for a new project.