Yooda – D.A.D.E The Album

 Yooda – D.A.D.E The Album

Yooda – D.A.D.E The Album – Album Review

Now it makes more sense to me.  At first I was like, “really – it’s been five years since Yooda put a record out?,” until I realized that D.A.D.E The Album actually came out back in 2019.  The record before that, Hiroshima was featured here up on our pages back in 2016…five years away from us, but only a mere three in between records.  Chances are, D.A.D.E The Album showing up here now at this point is likely an indication that the wheels are turnin’ over there in Yooda land, and that need to get back in the studio to do his thang has been growing daily…I can’t say for sure, but I’d imagine he’s got even newer stuff on the way & being put together behind the scenes as I’m typing this up…the man can’t stay away for long.

Starting it up with some old…probably a sample from a tourism promotional video for good ol’ Dade County in Miami on the “D.A.D.E – Intro” – which was a solid move in my opinion, I love this kind of stuff and this accomplishes what Yooda sets out to do with it in establishing what this experience is gonna be all about, if you hadn’t caught that from the title of the record already.  While there’s no actual Yooda on this first cut, the “D.A.D.E – Intro” is a killer addition to kick this off and helps set up what’s to follow.

Don’t assume nothin’” – Yooda’s about to tell ya what’s real from his own perspective on “D.A.D.E” as he starts up the record with its first official cut.  “I’ve always been the one to go against the grain,” as the man will tell ya himself…but you can hear it…you know, you know.  Yooda’s always been a reliable force on the mic and unafraid of saying what he wants, however he wants to say it, regardless of what you, I, or anybody else out there thinks.  Call it fearlessness, call it his own artistic integrity & the standards he chooses to set for himself, call it whatever you want – that’s the point – it don’t matter to Yooda!  He’s gonna do what he does whether y’all are ready or not, you feel me?  There are actually only three tracks that feature the man solo, and he starts this up with one of the two that aren’t a skit.  Even playin’ the role of his own hype-man in the background as he punches the emphasis into his words, Yooda comes out swingin’ hard with melodic flow in the lead and wild personality threaded into the background as D.A.D.E The Album gets itself movin’ quick in the right directions.  A statement cut in many ways, Yooda lays down his verses with verbal authority & confidence from the microphone that’ll tell your ears that what you hear is the truth as he knows it, what’s real, and what goes down in Dade.

“You Don’t Know” starts out with a soulful hook to bring in the track, setting up the scene for a deep dive into the personal with Yooda and a weighty cut that provides a genuinely thought-provoking vibe.  Joined by Zamunda & Kavince in the first of several collaborative cuts you’ll find on D.A.D.E The Album, “You Don’t Know” has a lot to appreciate in terms of the writing and Yooda’s gift for communicating what’s on his mind through words that are gritty, raw, and real.  I was never sure about how I felt about the production on this cut if I’m being 100% honest…it’s got like…a strange filtered sound to the whole joint that seems to keep it locked into a highly compressed vibe that makes it harder for the music to breathe perhaps as much as it should.  Hooks-wise…I’m kinda of the same mind…I wouldn’t say they don’t work…they do…well enough…and heck, at times they even seem like a perfect fit; but at others a little less sure or not quite as much of a match to the energy as they could potentially have been, which again, might not at all be so much an issue with the vocals, but maybe the overall mix, it’s hard to say.  Bars-wise…these dudes have got bars all damn day, don’t you worry about that.  Lyrically, it’s definitely one of the strongest you’ll find on the record…Yooda gets into the gritty internal details, feels the feels, and lets a bit of pain out on wax here.  Though I’m never 100% sure on who is doin’ what, I’m thinkin’ it’s Zamunda that comes in for the second set of bars…and dude does a stellar job on bringing personality to the mic, in addition to widening the scope of pain this particular track addresses.  You get a solid wealth of perspective here, both internally & externally expressed in the words…”You Don’t Know” has lots to dig on through the lyrics you’ll find, and ultimately, the vibe itself still hits the mark.

By comparison though…and this is telling something Yooda already knows with this record being out for two years, but this is key…you can hear the difference between tracks like “You Don’t Know” that have more questionable moments in the mix and performances, and something like “Waste Time” where absolutely everything goes RIGHT.  As flawless & inspired as I’ve ever heard the man, this collaboration with Nubawn is a huge highlight early on in the set list of D.A.D.E The Album and provides a serious dose of vibrant cross-cultural hooks that work brilliantly – absolutely everything about this track pumps out relentless single-worthy sound that any set of ears out there listening would instantly want turned UP.  As many times as I’ve toured though this record over the course of this past week, one fact has never escaped me…and that’s that “Waste Time” isn’t just a great cut with single-worthy sound, it is THE single of all single-worthy tracks on this new Yooda album.  This cut got the flashiest and flyest Miami-based video on the planet to go along with it & give it the full support it deserves with a wild backyard party breaking out that’s every bit as wild as the track itself is – I say get this song to the people in every way they can get it homie!  Nubawn’s hooks here are absolutely the most addictive you’ll find on any cut, and Yooda’s straight-up mesmerizing in the flow here…”Waste Time” has the kind of sound that you can hear inspires each of these dudes to reach their best on the m-i-c, and they more than hold their end of the bargain.  Along with the video, Yooda’s got this one beyond the next-level, he’s smashed it outta the park so hard that he’s got vibes that could rock clear around the globe – and if you haven’t been jammin’ this joint as loud and proud as you could be by now…well hell…here’s your opportunity right here…

Coming after a song with universal vibes in the lineup can always be a huge challenge for any track to follow.  I probably would have leaned towards cutting “Freaky” if I’m being honest with the man, despite the fact that the lyrics here are pretty killer in the wildly explicit & sexually-charged verses & bars you’ll find.  Hooks-wise is where I think we’ve got a potential problem that stands in the way of this track holding up over time…at least that’s what I’d suspect.  I mean…I just can’t do it.  I can’t do things like “Freaky-kinky” or when other bands & artists put ‘funky’ & ‘junkie’ together…& now that I’m writing this down I’m realizing all this stuff ends with an ‘E’ sound at the end…maybe that’s a phonetic thing and personal to me & the way I listen, I dunno.  I suppose it just felt like the strength of the hooks were more than a few miles away from the strengths of the bars on “Freaky” if I’m bein’ real with ya.  Lyrically, I mean…damn!  Yooda’s somehow sucking clitorises while he’s spittin’ bars – how’s THAT for talent y’all?  Don’t be ashamed to admit it…you’d take that superpower in a heartbeat if someone offered it to ya.  Diving into the deep end of wet pussy, Yooda clearly has zero problems gettin’ explicit AF, and I mean, you’ll hear about the hymen, the cervix & more – you men out there might even LEARN somethin’ about lovin’ RIGHT, & it’s mighty clear that he knows his way under the hood, you hear what I’m sayin’ ladies?  It might not be the most balanced cut on the record, but it’s brow-raising & entertaining, believe that.

“Product Of My City” radiates instant old-school appeal & conscious Hip-Hop vibes that sound fantastic as the song begins.  Beat-wise I’m loving it, bars-wise we’re on as solid-ground here as we always are with Yooda, and hooks-wise…  Is it just me?  Maybe the facts are they’re just writing rhymes that are outshining the hooks in these tracks…maybe that’s on them, maybe it’s not on me at all.  I felt similar towards how they come out here as I did with “You Don’t Know” earlier on…they work…but they’re right on the fence in terms of whether or not they’ll stand out as much as they potentially could have with a bit more power & tone behind’em.  Ultimately, this cut goes for, and achieves that 70s inspired sound it’s looking for though…and you could point to countless examples of vocals & backing harmonies that would have similar sounds in that respect…it’s true to the era, and in that respect, I’m willing to live with a few tones in the melody that don’t quite have the same sparkle you’d find today in a modern-day vibe.  Lyrically, “Product Of My City” starts to dig deeper on a social level & what life in Miami is all about, the struggles it has, and the effect that has on the people livin’ there…it’s all aces when it comes to the words & bars as it always is – Yooda’s got a gift when it comes right down to it…he’s got that X-factor you wanna hear in an emcee, and with undeniable swagger, he’s puttin’ it to work on this track.  Backed up by Yun Kuntry and Moon, “Product Of My City” gets to the heart of what’s real, & sounds smooth in the process of doin’ it…bass-lines are more subtle here, but highly effective in supplyin’ the chill groove.

Now…while “Warning” might not serve too much heat through your speakers at less than a minute in length, it does likely serve a more powerful function – this is where most people tuning in will realize that most, if not presumably ALL the artists & guest-stars featured on this record are reppin’ the 305 or somewhere close by Miami at the very least.  DJ Oski comes in to spin it up for a second…it’s an intro-style cut & no one’s out to change the world here in less than a minute’s time…no reason to complain either though.  Personally I think it’s rad as hell that Yooda’s gotten so many people involved on this album when it comes right down to it…”Warning” proves that even if it was only for less than sixty seconds but you still had time to make time, he was willing to put space on this Miami-themed record to feature the talent that exists out there in the city.  Full props to that…artist’s like Yooda bring the scene together tighter, and the raise the level of overall talent you’ll find in it as well by leading by example.

Large & in-charge, “Convertible Burt” would be another track I’d point to where everything goes right for the man from start to finish, with another strong dose of single-worthy sound at work as well.  Proving that guest-stars are a great thing, yes – but at the end of the day, we came here for the main star of the show, and it’s solo tracks like “Convertible Burt” where Yooda makes sure you get everything you paid for & then some.  HUGE bass-driven beat to this cut, and the man uses every beat to his advantage when punching the syllables into his bars & hooks.  As far as I can tell, “Convertible Burt” was released in advance of the record, back in 2018 originally when D.A.D.E The Album was starting to ramp up its promo heading towards its arrival on the internet the year after.  Maybe it was finished & ready to go earlier, or maybe Yooda’s just made a stellar choice in recognizing a single-worthy cut from the full lineup…whatever it was that got this track out there & recognized for standing out that 10% more than the rest, was a good call to have made – this is the type of song that’ll entice all kinds of people in to listen.  He “came up from the dirt” and he ain’t afraid to sling a lil’ mud around as he takes shots from the microphone – “don’t let your feelings get you hurt” now…but recognize there’s at least a few of you out there he’s callin’ out directly…and I’d assume you’ll know if it’s YOU.  Yooda’s workin’ with BIG sound & BIG hooks on “Convertible Burt,” and this time around he’s sprayin’ bullets & spittin’ rhymes…which is a much more deadly & dangerous combo than when he was spittin’ rhymes & munchin’ on clitoris earlier on with “Freaky,” you dig?  Nailed this cut hard…”Convertible Burt” not only jams, but it seems to set off a chain reaction in this set-list that pushes this album from good to great.

“On My Shit” features one of the largest collaborations on the record, expanding the roster to four in total, with A-Sis, Pollock da King, and our homie Ced Wynez making an appearance with Yooda on this track.  In terms of a team, this is pretty much the Avengers in action here y’all – you couldn’t ask for a better lineup of all-stars, and you’ll hear that EVERYONE is on their shit as they bust rhymes through the course of this wildly addictive cut.  There’s so much personality & character in this one cut alone that what you’ll find on “On My Shit” could fill an entire record – and I’d imagine this would be a genuine highlight for a ton of people out there listening because of that.  With its added neon vibes, energetic hooks, and non-stop movement – there’s an entire smorgasbord of personalities on the mic that stack up large together – and like, fuck – if this ain’t that anthem you reach for to pump you up to go conquer the day, I think you’re missing out.  If you’re still out there jammin’ Eminem’s “Lose Yourself” before you hit the boxing ring, prepare to get yourself knocked out in the first round by the guy that was listening to “On My Shit” before lacing up the gloves, you feel me?  A perfect example of a collaboration in full-effect, you couldn’t ask a single thing more from anyone involved on “On My Shit” – they give you their A-game here, and rightly so – I can’t imagine how a track like “On My Shit” would have been like to listen to if they weren’t on their shit!  They’re more than on their shit here – they’re at the top of their game and all contributing to one of the most defining moments of collaboration on D.A.D.E The Album.

Bringin’ “All The Smoke” to the start of the record’s second half – give the man some serious credit here for being on an incredible roll through the mid-section of D.A.D.E The Album – this is right around where most lineups of this length would start to sag, but Yooda & his crew have raised the stakes hard in the middle.  With Lamborghini Law on the mic to kick it off and hype it up from the background with Yooda, these two cruise to victory on “All The Smoke,” blazin’ up the bars & hooks with intense energy that never lets up…and I’m HERE FOR IT.  A stellar example of how to raise the stakes from the verses to the main hooks – when you hear that digital infusion of wild bass & low-end atmosphere to punch the chorus up even more, you FEEL IT RATTLE YOUR BONES – and if that ain’t an example right there of how to bring “All The Smoke” straight atcha sonically, I don’t know what else could be.  Lamborghini Law & Yooda shift themselves into high gear & rap with speed, precision, and plenty of swag you couldn’t miss.

“No Favors” roots itself in distrust and shady scenarios that remind ya to make sure you know who’s in your corner and who’s not – Yooda goes BIG once again on this cut with MJ in the mix, sounding like they grew ten feet taller from the time they started recording this track to the time they finished.  Giant track…and it’s got one hell of an innovative ending to it that, every time it came up, I was like…damn, get me some more of that will ya?  The last thirty-seconds or so adds an entirely new flavor into the mix that’s as equally rad as the rest of what you’ve heard…all-in-all, I ain’t complaining – they’ve given us enough of it to get by as long as we’ve got our repeat button handy – but yeah…it was an interesting final flex in direction that you’ll certainly notice & wanna encourage Yooda to keep exploring uniqueness like you hear there at the end.  PLENTY to keep you fully entertained long before the end though – you’ll find Yooda and MJ have no problem starting this cut at a full ten & take it to eleven from there – “No Favors” has what’s arguably the opening that’s going to have every head turning to give it attention, because it’s that freakishly MASSIVE as it starts.  “No Favors” gives no fucks, takes no prisoners, makes no apologies, and pulls no punches when it comes to what they wanna say & who they want to hear it – they’ve got middle fingers raised up loud’n’proud to everyone out there in some way, shape, or form.

Lowkey ain’t to be trifled with y’all, that’s for certain – he makes that crystal clear through the tone of his voice in a killer appearance on “There It Is” as Yooda and his posse of collaborative talents continue to crush it in the middle of D.A.D.E The Album.  Love the samples he’s used here for the hooks, love the news samples he’s playin’ in the background to add that additional Miami-based theme into the vibe once again…it’s another hard-hitter overall that lands with impact through your speakers from the lefts to the rights.  The beat here is 100% stellar and the mix is spectacular…Lowkey delivers and Yooda does too – but emcees bring their own sound & skillset to the mic, and as a result you’ll find this collaboration really has that complementary vibe you wanna hear, where each bring something altogether unique to their own moments, yet serve an even larger purpose when combined together here in this one song.  “There It Is” takes time to drop insightful rhymes on ya, and has no problem staying every bit as direct & on-point as so much of what we’ve heard on this record when it comes to the incredible verses & bars throughout D.A.D.E The Album – you will find no complaints from me – they’re rappin’ with purpose & passion and you can hear it in the power of the meaning driving their words & the tone of their voices.  With the added samples in the mix, you get to the heart of what troubles plague the Miami area, but also get serious perspective on what’s got it to the point where it’s at now…”There It Is” is an important cut to this record’s lineup & makes for thought-provoking entertainment that’ll have you listening close.

“Da Plug – Skit” – while I’m normally much more tossed-up on skits being included and think over time they usually reveal the timestamp on any given record that includes them – Yooda’s really used cuts like this and the opening “D.A.D.E – Intro,” “Warning,” and “Sweetwater” at the end of D.A.D.E The Album in much more interesting ways than you usually tend to find; I dig how these cuts tie this record together.

Expanding the lineup to four in the mix once again, Yooda enlists Kutbaby, Jet D, and Muck to bring it to your speakers & stereos on “Mariel Boatlift.”  Do I have any idea of what the heck they mean by a “Mariel Boatlift?”  Hell no!  But I do know what a hook sounds like, and they’ve got plenty of’em on display throughout this cut.  Like many of these cuts, chances are it’s a reference to somethin’ Dade-specific in some way…but yeah…all I can tell ya for a certainty is that they’ve got no problem at all gettin’ wild with this one, taking the pressure off the weight of rappin’ solely on societal issues and simply celebrating excess & being extra from the stylistic sound of the music & personalities on the mic in party-mode.  I’ll put it to ya this way…as an instrumental, I don’t know if I would have heard it, you dig?  It’s the fact these four put so much WORK into it, that we don’t really end up too focused on the music not quite being up to the same level of innovation or creativity that you find on so many others – but to be fair, you can still hear the punch into the beat & the production haven’t dropped one iota in quality either.  All-in-all, “Mariel Boatlift” flexes an onslaught of verbal muscle in a variety of forms – chances are you’ll find that’s the main strength of this cut when you’re listening, and you’ll find that’s all you needed it to have in order to leave a lasting impact on ya.  “Pockets so fat I need two belts” gets an extra shout-out from me…I love lines like this that get right to the heart of what they wanna say without having to do anything more than conjure up the imagery we KNOW comes with it – as in, he’s stacked up so much paper that without them belts, his pants would be draggin’ on the GROUND, you dig?  Like I was tellin’ ya…”Mariel Boatlift” is a celebration of excess riches…if you earned’em by puttin’ in the work, believe me when I say, you end up sounding just like Kutbaby, Jet D, Muck, and Yooda do right here.

“McDuffie Riot” might very well be my favorite cut on this record…and unfortunately, it’s still all too relevant, even now, when it comes to the socially observant themes and how it calls out the injustices that have been taking place for far too long.  Specifically in Miami, where they take it back to the 80s here on this track, and address the riots that occurred as a result of four officers getting off scot-free with no accountability in the death of Arthur McDuffie back in the day.  Of course we know this is a problem that still exists in the present right in the here & now – and while there has been justice for one well-known case with George Floyd, that by no means brings any balance to the scales of justice overall.  America at large has a long, long way to go before convincing anyone from the Black community to trust the system by default; I don’t pretend to speak for anybody or what they’ve been through, but even from the perspective of a crusty old white dude like myself, it’s easy to see that the country has yet to EARN their trust through changed behavior…because one instance of justice simply does not equate to that.  It’s a start – and a good one in the right direction – no one would deny that – but there is so much more work to still be done to bring about the change we need, and tracks like “McDuffie Riot,” even in highlighting the struggle of the people versus the police, is still set a long ways into the history of this whole raging battle.  The fact that you can listen to this cut, hear what was going on in Miami at the time, know what you know to have ALREADY gone on BEFORE that, and also be aware of the fact that so much of this bullshit is STILL going on NOW…I mean…obviously it’s awesome to listen to because it’s Yooda & all, but I’ll be damned if it doesn’t make you also shake your head in sadness over the fact that things STILL HAVEN’T CHANGED ENOUGH.  Backed up by crucial samples that detail the story, and appearances by Moon & Ced Wynez, together with Yooda they’ve put together a track that’s every bit as relevant now as it was when it came out – the question is, can we STOP this track from being relevant tomorrow?  “McDuffie Riot” was created to self-destruct if you’re listening to its message correctly; it’s intended to provoke minds and generate change through awareness…make sure you pay attention y’all.  The strong lyricism, silky smooth vibe, stellar hooks & samples will have no problem assisting you in that.

We might very well just hear hooks differently, or want different things when it comes to the results – that’s completely a possibility, and I never hold anything against an artist or band looking to create a specific sound or style, whether or not it gels with me.  To me, it sounds like Yooda is probably a much nicer guy than he might have ya believin’ on the mic if you ask me…I think there are spots where he’s got guest-stars in the hooks that are givin’ him 95 when he needs 100…and I suspect he’s just gotta be a bit more ruthless when it comes to askin’ for it.  “Freedom Tower” for example, slides a little back towards that feeling again that, the hooks work well enough yes, but could they be shinier, brighter, or better somehow?  It might be more up for debate amongst all of y’all out there & that’s always encouraged by me – talk about it, don’t be indifferent – tell the man what your truth is, that’s how we evolve in what we do as artists & keep pushing to the next level.  I just call things like I hear’em and you all know that’s what I do, love me or hate me for it…I try to serve a larger function than merely writing out a whole bunch of words in trying to challenge this scene filled with artists & bands to dig as deep as they can, be as objective as possible, and try to hear things how we might experience it all as listeners.  All that being said, “Freedom Tower” makes a million incredible points in the main verses & bars that continue to dive deep into social inequality & injustices that we should all be aware of, whether or not we’re livin’ in Miami.  Along with Dadesouth and Moon, “Freedom Tower” is another important cut to this record’s theme & what Yooda’s looking to say, even if it might not quite come out with that full balance some of the other cuts have by comparison.  Words & ideas are often key, and this track has no shortage of either of those aspects whatsoever…verses are bulletproof, hooks are strong enough to get a nod of approval from most…but perhaps more importantly, the focus on the big picture never wavers.

Backed up by Moon once again, and a second appearance from show-stopper Nubawn in the mix as well, “All Mines” lifts up D.A.D.E The Album with brighter vibes as it heads towards its finale.  Ultimately, you could even argue that “All Mines” is a pretty legit love-song when it comes right down to it – and the hooks supplied by Nubawn are further proof that this dude’s got true magic whenever he steps to the mic in another standout performance.  I’m not gonna go and make some wild claim like they’ve hit this one quite like they struck pure audio gold with “Waste Time” earlier on in the set – but there’s no doubt this second collaboration between Yooda & Nubawn works well.  Moon has her moments…she’s got more to give & I can hear that; I think her main highlight on this record comes from “Product Of My City” earlier on in the set, but she holds her own here well enough.  Y’all know me…I’m a demanding guy & a picky critic with the music I’m listening to…and once I know what you’re capable of, that’s what I wanna hear.  Overall, “All Mines” has more than enough hook & pull to draw in listeners – the main hooks of this track could be among the most memorable for many people out there jammin’ this album.

“Sweetwater” is another example of that style of filtered sound we experienced on “You Don’t Know” towards the beginning, but in this particular instance, it works to much better effect.  With the spoken word supplied by Khary – you get a whole bunch of Miami history in less than two minutes – not JUST Miami, but Black Miami, as it’s always been, “from day one,” as he’ll expertly & insightfully explain.  You get that serious sound of wisdom at work on “Sweetwater” – like, in Khary’s tone of voice and the details of authentic local history in his words, you know that you should be sitting & listening & paying your full respect to a man that’s talking about, because you know this is genuinely what he’s seen, experienced, lived through, and witnessed himself personally over years of time.  If I’m being honest with ya, “Sweetwater” is one of my favorite tracks on the record actually – but I tend to be a guy that loves spoken word tracks and artistic vibes…you get a solid mix of both here.  You get that first aspect through the knowledge being dropped into the mic via Khary – and you get the artistic vibe you want by the fact this track got made & included to bring a supremely tight conclusion to this conceptual record.

Listen to music by Yooda at his official page at Spotify:  https://open.spotify.com/artist/5ILk6CBZlzaeJPlzhBSA2h

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Jer@SBS

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