23-year-old designer cum rapper Dan Kanvis has a lot of guts to spill. He frequently unpacks his musings on fame, feelings of inadequacy, and fears on his blog, but the Chicago rapper doesn’t rap with any reservations.
Windows is Kanvas’ ambitious debut. It’s a slick, understated 12-song LP that ranges from highly cerebral to desperately emotive to slyly detached. Even when he’s unpacking his anxieties (“Inside My Head”) or looking out in isolation (“Windows”), it’s clear DK knows exactly what his message is, even if he’s still hashing out who he is as an artist.
Above all, though, Windows is an album that knows how to be fun. “Bump Bump” hangs out the woofer with an almost Rastafarian vibe, and the slap-bass carries some of DK’s best one-liners. “Never Too Much,” the LP’s single, which features theWHOevers, is head-nodding jam that channels early-’90s boom bap like Jurassic 5 and Tribe Called Quest.
All production on the album by a broad swath of different artists, though the aesthetic that DK calls for is kept consistent. The beats are never too busy. There are rarely more components than bass, drums, and keys, “West Berenice” being the one arguable exception. That isn’t to say Windows lacks something — conversely, the sparseness of the production is what gives Kanvis the freedom to keep up his cypher-like approach.
DK operates above the level of most other internet rappers of his ilk because his style isn’t so immediately recognizable as derivative of his peers. The first comparisons that jump to mind are very flattering: fellow Midwest rappers Sims and Kristoff Krane, both of whom are known for their ability to jump flows seamlessly. This is mostly the case for DK, who despite some choppiness in opener “Windows,” does a good job building energy with his voice when the beat calls for it. At other times, you can hear Kanvis borrowing his intonation from College Dropout-era Kanye, even nodding to the Louis Vuitton don’s “Spaceship” on “Stranger.”
Download Windows from Dan Kanvis’ website.