Wisconsin i a hub of many things — beer, cheese, serial killers — but Milwaukee sill has a long way to go before it can be considered a hip-hop mecca. But 18-year-old IshDARR is setting out to change that with his latest Old Soul Young Spirit.
Complex premiered the album earlier this week, giving IshDARR free reign to annotate the release track-by-track, and the high-minded youngster drops plenty of nuggets about touring with Ab-Soul, police brutality, and the elbow grease that went into the album. And, on “It’s Like,” he take to the mic to express his love for his hometown, a sentiment which, judging by the album, isn’t expressed enough.
He notes that opener “For You” is his favorite track on the album, but it’s truly “Overdue Interlude,” and incensed freestyle, where IshDARR rips open the jangling beat to profess his purpose. In his own words, IshDARR said the song “is a long statement basically,” adding: “I kind of let it all out on this interlude. For my family, the city, and just about me personally.”
Few tracks stand out in terms of production — most of the beats are your standard trap joints that have claps, hi-hats, and woofer-rattling bass — but J Gramm cooks up something undeniably infectious on “Too Bad.” The downmodulated chorus and mesmerizing swirls of keys pair with a manic chant to make the song a unique party beat you might expect from Kendrick Lamar or Chance the Rapper.
Speaking of rappers IshDARR conjures on Old Soul Yong Spirit, there are plenty of verses where the Midwest rhymer inspires allusions to Broke Beats darling F.Stokes. Both are wizards with wordplay. Both punctuate their bars with great bouts of energy, and both have an almost poetic feel, though IshDARR’s titular young spirit separates him from the elder Wisconsinite. He swaps flows with all the rollicking emotion of a burgeoning teenager (“Remember”), though he’s certainly has the worldweary scope of an older soul.
The dynamic makes the rising emcee worth watching, especially if IshDARR can bring up the whole Milwaukee scene with him.