The year of our Lord Two Thousand and Nineteen has seen some interesting twists and turns. A lot of big names in the CHH space have released music and a lot of lesser known artists have dropped projects that have made an impact. In music as well as other things, you only have one chance to make a good first impression, and for many artists that first real impression is made with their debut full length album. One such artist, Dante James recently released what he calls his first album ‘Tae.’ Let’s see what the project is about.
On the “Welcome(Intro)” we hear what sounds like an interview. A woman is talking about the birth of Dante James. This person sounds like an intimate part of James’ life and could play a huge role in his life as well as the album. Only time will tell. The next song is “Calm Down” and is the first official song on the album and it features Kathrin Bizarro and Ayodele. This is a nice vibey track and the guests really add a nice layer on the hook and add to the song. As someone who used to visit the beach in Hawaii at night, I can definitely relate to, “listen to waves and calm down” portion of the song. On “No Love Lost” Lead Dates is the featured artist. Dante deals with having to move past old hurts without holding a grudge, assuring that there’s “No Love Lost.” Leah sounds good on the hook and shines on the bridge as well. The next song “In My Lane(Updated)” finds James skating on this beat about how he stays in his lane and tells his story. This song features a verse from MvKyyJ and they both name drop some of their influences like Andy Mineo and Lecrae. I like the hook, ” I’m in my lane no Torey/my music tells my Story, To God I give all glory.” All in all a decent song.
Next we have “Blessings All Around,” which is Dante’s first solo song on the album. James speaks about the attacks he goes through in his life but by focusing on God and remembering his blessings, James is able to make it through. I like this hook and this song in general as it shows that James doesn’t need a feature and that he can carry a song by himself. The next run of songs are “No Games”, “Got Me Like”, and “Get Back” and they all have Dante James by himself doing his thing. The best of this batch is “Got Me Like” as it’s heavy on the piano and sounds like it could be the ending song of a project. The next song is interlude “Home(Interlude)”and it seems answer the question of how Dante got the nickname Tae. Next on the album is “Clear The Air(Destiny) featuring Sole. The song kicks off with a few bars from James and then Sole gets into his verse and then James picks up where Sole left off. This was one of the better songs on the project and I appreciate the structure of this song. On “On The Way” James chronicles his uphill climb on the way to greatness. This song kind of drags a little bit and honestly could have been cut from the album. The next song “I Confess,” starts with Dante speaking in his normal tone about the song and the premise behind it. This song as the title suggests, is literally one long confessional with no hook or bridge or anything. I really appreciate the fluid song structure and it makes this song stand out that much more.
As we head into the final handful of songs we land on “All Good” featuring Capilani and Durag. This song is kind of the classic Christian song “I’m good because I got God with me” feel to it. It is true, there’s no knocking it, but still the song feels kind of predictable. Yet and still, James talks about his struggles and touches on some things I can’t wait to hear him unpack at a later date and time. The laughter at the end really sounds like he had fun making this song. James gets real reflective with “J.K.T.I.G” an acronym that stands for Just Know That I’m God, a song that reassures the listener that “it’s not over until it’s over.” This song encourages the listener to trust God as He’s always there and He’s always in control. Next we have “Holdin On(Updated)” featuring Corinne Stoddard. This song is about holding on of course but under what some would consider dire circumstances. One part that really caught my attention was where James said he went to church for a whole year and didn’t feel anything. Some would have used that a reason to stop going to church and leave the faith altogether, but Dante stayed and is “Holdin On.” The final interlude is “Tae.” and the person who gave him the nickname turns out to be his aunt and the name just fit, and the rest is history. The next to last song is “Tae the 3rd(Outro)” and it sounds like Dante is talking to his past self, almost like a time capsule in the form of a song for his younger self should he ever need advice or encouragement. The project would have ended with that but James has a bonus track in store for us with “MD 2 TX” featuring Richard, Sole, and MvKyyJ. Nothing better than a posse cut or cypher song to end a project, and this song is no exception. Each and every artist went off on this song and I’m not mad at that
In conclusion, this was one of the longest projects I’ve reviewed all year, and there were some ups as well as some downs. Eighteen songs is a lot to listen to, especially from a relatively unknown artist, and that kind of hurt this project. While the fact that it was all produced by Dante James sounds impressive at first, you begin to realize that after the first half of the album, all of the songs begin to sound the same sonically. I would love to hear Dante flow on production from other producers and see if that could help stretch him as an artist. Some of the songs could have been cut but it’s hard to say which ones besides “On The Way.” All in all, Dante took us into his world and let us in on his family nickname with ‘Tae.’ I believe that all the interludes and the title of the project worked together to bring us into an intimate space in James’ world. After listening to this project, I believe you’ll walk way feeling like you know Dante James better than you did before you listened. Do yourself a favor and check out ‘Tae.’1