Anfa Rose & Dopamine, inspired and close to home


Hip Hop is one of the most generous musical genres in recent memory. There’s a reason that Metro Boomin’s fame is almost as synonymous as that of Tony Visconti’s. It took Visconti more than a trilogy of Bowie’s finest albums to help him get notoriety. It took Metro a 10-word phrase murmured by Future.

Every single track on Anfa Rose’s new project, Debauched, has production credits by Dopamine and there’s only one collab verse on the whole project by Miracle, who’s also had a hand on some production fronts. Regardless, this project would not be what it is without Dopamine.

Hip Hop has been consistent when it’s come to crediting producers. “Prod. by _____” is a staple in the genre. It’s not a surprise at all to see it at the end of every song title, especially in lesser known works. Underground Hip Hop is a group effort. 40’s production complemented Drake’s vocals just as well as one did the other. On “Debauched,” however, one can’t help but wonder if Anfa Rose is  as integral to Dopamine as Dopamine is to him.

Australian Rap Finding Its Voice

Anfa Rose is appealing, there’s no doubt about it. He’s only doing well for how serious Australian rap is being taken. Nothing’s really wrong with the lyricism or charm with lines like “Girl I’m not just trying to be another situation for you.” Lines like that make the R&B/Hip-Hop hybrid genre survive at the stature it’s at today. They summarize a very basic thought in an accessible light. The production is stellar, it’s almost absurd how Dopamine hasn’t had some credits on songs by major artists because there could be serious contributions made. His production is immune to farty 808s and synths that plague so much of underground hip-hop.
Every part of his instrumentation is inspired and still unique in its own regard. Even if “Time To Go Up” has the classic FL Studio/Zaytoven piano loop, you’re left with grandiose impressions, especially when the strings come in around the minute mark. “Let It Be” is reminiscent of “When I Die” by GoldLink, but the NWTS-esque pitch shifted R&B samples give the song it’s own subtle vibe.

Throughout the whole album, though, a constant wonder is when Anfa is going to find his own voice. He’s fun to listen to, but that’s mainly because of how comparable he is to Drake.

A Polarizing Hip Hop Trend

Drake is poison at this point, he’s the one barrier that’s stopping so many rappers in this genre from finding their own sound. Drake took the bar that Kanye set in 2008, and drop kicked it so hard that it ricocheted to an even higher point. “I know your life is a mess, I know you still fuck with your ex” or “Let me be real, I’m in my feelings” or “She more worried about retail” are just a few examples from the many resemblances Anfa Rose has. There’s just too much Drake and not enough Anfa. Some of the melodizing flat out sounds like Drake himself. There are songs that provide transparent similarities like “On Top” and “Real Interlude,” and that’s only due to Dopamine himself falling victim to the spell. It’s 40 on steroids, for better or for worse. “On Top” even has a phone call towards the end where the word “ting” is said six times.

The potential is incredible, Anfa isn’t even a bad rapper as there are clear moments in the project where he absolutely shines. “Attention” is distinct on this album. Rose’s flow keeps at pace with Miracle’s production efforts and the plucks of each guitar string build the structure of the song with perfection.

Anfa Rose and Dopamine have created a stellar listen, regardless. The OVO/R&B-Hip Hop sound has never seen signs of slowing down and that’s mainly because there will always be younger artists who revive it time and time again (see: Bryson Tiller). If Anfa Rose and Dopamine end up on that list, at least they have a hint of originality that sticks them out from the rest.