Freestyle of the Week Review: S. Dot, “Val Venis Freestyle”

There are numerous taxonomic identifiers that identify the influence of Southern trap music on the Chicago drill scene, particularly stuttering, clicking, stomping drum lines with highly textured patterns, spartan yet atmospheric song craft and a focus on brutality, although it is here that the line is drawn; drill’s eerily disconnected delivery of graphic content, Beautiful Violence-cum-barbituates, is a distinguishing feature of the genre.

Unfortunately, drill also inherited trap music’s most glaring weakness: That to untrained ears, the distinct, strong palette overwhelms the individual artists, causing the songs to all sound quite similar from the outside looking in. This is particularly true in drill, which has yet to develop all of the ridiculously unique flows of its Southern forebear (Gucci Mane, 2 Chainz). This should not, however, be misconstrued as an insult to those rappers currently plying the drill scene, since they are the originators, pouring the foundation, and as the form takes hold and grows, it will inevitably diversify. In the meantime, however, those unfamiliar with the genre will most likely treat most cuts as different shades of one color–same drill, different bit, so to speak.

 S. Dot is helping to push towards such disparate voices; following the lead of King Louie, his take on Louie’s “Val Venis” features a faster, more traditional flow than many of drill’s other songs, in juxtaposition to the traditional lumbering horror of the production, adding a raw speed and edge to the trademark sleepwalking delivery currently in vogue in the city and showing versatility in doing so. Some of S. Dot’s strongest bars yet are here, and while intricate lyricism–once traditionally considered integral to Midwestern rap–still bows subservient to style and vocalizations, hearing the straight ahead, unblinking content so critical to drill’s rise in popularity channeled in a more lively manner goes to show that the style has more than one note available to it. One is excited to see what branching pieces like this, combined with the youth of the majority of the artists and the prominent placement of Chicago’s female emcees, will create within a few years. After all, “this is just a snippet” of an artistic movement still in its nascent form. 

 “Val Venis Freestyle”receives a PAR

 Listen: S. Dot – “Val Venis Freestyle”

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