Rap and rock have always shared a close relationship. However, artists such as Jean Dawson have slowly been tearing down the walls that separate the two. With the release of his second studio album "CHAOS NOW*," Dawson continues to spearhead this new artistic movement of hip-hop.
Just as the title states, this is a chaotic album, but Dawson can find beauty within that mess, constantly referencing pop-punk or grunge elements and fusing them with hip-hop. There is no loss of energy in many of these tracks. For instance, “THREE HEADS*” and “SCREW FACE*” feature upbeat tempos and punk vocals.
One of the best aspects of "CHAOS NOW*" is Dawson putting his features in unfamiliar spaces, whether it be “KIDS EAT PILLS*” featuring Isiah Rashad or “BAD FRUIT*” where Earl Sweatshirt is singing on alternative/ folk production.
Lyrically, Jean Dawson has taken it to the next level using unique syncopation, imagery and metaphors. There are some songs where the lyrics are so strong they could stand on their own without the production. The best example of this is “PORN ACTING*,” “POSITIVE ONE NEGATIVE ONE*” and “BAD FRUIT*.”
Another strange element of this project is the abrupt transition between songs. Dawson's reasoning for this was explained in an interview with Jon Barlas with Ourgenerationmusic.
“It’s kind of like the idea of how children speak. They don’t use periods or commas, but they use a lot of ‘and then’ phrases. A lot of the album uses these ‘and then’ phrases. It’s kind of like explaining a dream. There’s a lot of things happening, but they’re all very important. Every detail is important,” he said. This is also the same reason for the asterisk in all of the songs and the album name.
For the most part, "CHAOS NOW*" is distinctive when compared to what other artists are doing in the music industry or the genre itself. However, there are some tracks where the production was basic in terms of pop-punk.
In addition, the album begins to fall off slightly in the second half, but not completely to the point of the project being ruined. Besides that, there are no other issues in quality as there is plenty of variety sonically and lyrically as Dawson has created his sound.
One of the more interesting projects of 2022, that would compare to Rico Nasty’s "Las Ruinas" or Kenny Mason’s "Ruffs." With themes of drug abuse, mental anguish and more, this album has the depth that many projects nowadays lack. With the heavy amount of projects being released, this may get lost in the noise, but it will become an underrated album of this year.
I give "CHAOS NOW*" a 7.5/10