Jay Delmore Drops “Dope Boy”

At once immersive and removed from the emotions it espouses so elegantly through a system of strings that seem to spread from Jay Delmore’s heart to the audience without skipping a beat, the seamlessness of the intro to the new single “Dope Boy” is half the reason I recommend pressing the play button on this prime melodic hip-hop release this September. Rather than hitting us with a hard bassline right off the bat, Delmore is talking his time building up as harmony-centric a backdrop as he can in the first few bars of “Dope Boy,” leaving the definition of the narrative up to his linguistics and brilliant vocal alone.

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His singing is striking, his rap wholly melodic, and scarcely does he sound like he doesn’t know the precise way he wants to put down a lyric, even when said lyric is inflicting pain on his soul as much as it is those who understand the weight it bears. The poetic value to both the arrangement and the execution in this piece is off the chain, but beyond this, I see a sonic depth to this single that suggests much greater things for this artist than many of his contemporaries are likely to see in their own careers. 

Delmore gets a word out like he’s draining venom from a wound – with incredible urgency and a bit of adrenaline hanging over the tone of his voice. He never sounds boxed in by this bass part, but instead at the mercy of the guitar strings as they dance about beside his every verse. The emo-rap overtones are present only in structure here; truth be told, what my man is actually constructing with his lyrics is so much more confident than what I’ve got from the more emotional poets dominating the American hip-hop underground at the moment.

From start to finish, Jay Delmore’s most passionate statements in “Dope Boy” aren’t made so by the heaviness in his heart, but by the swagger behind his delivery, which might be among some of the brightest I’ve come across of anyone’s in his scene at the moment. He’s got the smarts and the sophistication as a composer to make something moving here, and he isn’t wasting any of his gifts for anything (including the preservation of trending cosmetics). 

Hip-hop’s melodic edging has become far more exciting a story than any of the once-prominent themes of violence and guttural sonic slamming the bottom-end of a typical rap single would sport some fifteen or twenty years ago, and Jay Delmore knows how to make it work for him in this track. “Dope Boy” isn’t the only diamond in his discography, but what it sets out for the future of its creator’s career could well be just the kick in the pants surreal hip-hop needs to get from the Kid Laroi to something a bit more profoundly experimental on a deeper level.

Delmore has my support as a critic, but more importantly, he’s got my interest as a lifelong fan of soulful, thoughtful songcraft. 

Nicole Killian

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Nicole loves to go cross country skiing, swimming, reading and critiquing books, listening and critiquing music, some culinary arts, pottery, spending time with my daughter, cheesy horror films.

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