So far in 2017 we’ve received some pretty big albums from some pretty big names. Migos, Big Sean, and Lupe Fiasco are a few among that upper-echelon of big releases. Have any of them turned out anything groundbreaking? Probably not. I mean Lupe ranked his own album a 7/10. That takes honesty, and Lupe still brings the bars. Big Sean gave us the same ol’ Sean – that being consistently average. Migos is hot right now, so there’s no denying that they got some jams on Culture (I’ll admit I get lit to Migos in the shower). While it’s the group’s best work, it’s not something super innovative or extraordinary. 2017 was kind of beginning to feel like it had a lackluster start. Until Canopy came out earlier this month.
Canopy is an album from Middle-Tennessee native nobigdyl., and is so far the best album of the year, and it’s not even close. This status could very well hold up by year’s end too, but let’s just focus on the moment of right now as Canopy floods the early year with it’s positivity and glory.
There’s been a wave of this whole “gospel rap” thing going on. It began popping when Kanye referred to TLOP as being a gospel rap project, and then Chance the Rapper followed up with Coloring Book. Coloring Book at it’s core was more gospel-y than TLOP, but they both held positive vibes in their own right. This is just with more mainstream artists who haven’t dabbled in that area before, there’s a whole other section of Christian rap-rappers who deserve their credit as well (Shout out Lecrae). As far as those two more mainstream projects go, nobigdyl. communicates the faith stronger, and better than both. Don’t get me wrong – they were both great albums. Amazing at times, even. Canopy just doesn’t feel forced in the slightest.
Now I’m not much of a religious man, at least not in the traditional sense, but I once had a discussion with a friend on how people place their faith in different things. People, nature, religion, science, etc. You can find faith in anything and that’s awesome. Whatever gives you that feeling, you should chase it and follow it. On Canopy, dyl is able to transcend faith to everybody, and it feels spectacular. If you told me you listened to this album and didn’t feel good afterwards, I’d be convinced that you were sent from the underworld to snatch me down for spreading these positive feelings with my words. That’s how uplifting Canopy is.
It starts right from the get go with the lead track “Tree Tops.” A fast-paced tale about being saved right before you hit the ground.
Better know your roots, better check your seeds / Kill those weeds with the recipe / That’s one part Father, one part Son, / One part Spirit, the blessed three
Let’s set the facts straight here and let you know that nobigdyl. can spit – like a dragon – because through the 10 tracks we get pure fire. The variation in cadences on “Tree Tops” as heard above is enough to prove that, but there’s plenty of other highlights on Canopy. Not only is the rhyming great, nobigdyl. has mastered the art of storytelling through rap, something that separates the elite artists from the not so elite. On “Burn,” dyl lets us inside his life and the effects that come with trying to make it in the game. It portrays the jealousy that comes with seeing your friends winning, and while that makes him happy, there’s no denying the jealousy that creeps in. There’s a price that comes with trying to build your empire up, and dyl acknowledges that wholeheartedly. The album itself is also a story. dyl is proving to us that anyone can come through tougher times, and by the time we reach the end of Canopy and “Morning” plays, we hear dyl rapping, “Thats when I saw the sunlight through the trees,” as the lightness has found its way through the darkness.
The wittiness and clever wordplay can’t be forgotten either. dyl makes references to quite a bit of pop culture throughout, like Dragon Ball Z, Kim Possible, Peter Pan, and I can’t forget the track “Venus,” where dyl makes dope shoutouts to the Williams sisters in what is a definite banger. WHATUPRG kills the hook in ways hard to define.
Some people could be steered away from Canopy at first glance because of it’s strong roots in faith, but don’t let that deter you. This album has a great handle on the balance to make it accessible for all. The production is brilliant and keeps the essence of Canopy captured while moving the album along at an excellent pace. There’s definite radio value here as well. “Suicide Nets,” while a heavy song, has a beautiful hook made for radio that a lot of people could hear and latch on to. Canopy‘s message is one for everyone, everywhere. The super-genius “Purple Dinosaur” is another song that should be getting played every chance it can. The happy go lucky keys at the beginning set the tone for what is the OG of all Barney shoutouts ever, all-time, forever.
Apple Music doesn’t feature the “.” at the end of nobigdyl like most other places do. Which is wrong. Because Canopy is the best thing out right now. Period.