Representing the Fillmore District of the Bay Area, DaVinci stands staunchly in California's hip-hop middle ground. In 2010, it seems like every MC emerging from California is either a blog-friendly act or still on the hyphy tip. Refreshingly, DaVinci is neither. He recalls the earlier days of Jay-Z and Scarface -- particularly the latter, when it comes to his throaty cadence and flow.
And that is not a round-about way of labeling DaVinci as a '90s revivalist. Rather, he provides an updated take on the lyrical depth and styles of those aforementioned MCs with a Left Coast bent. That boils down to a hefty dose of storytelling and braggadocio mixed with witty wordplay and metaphors among tales of his trails and tribulations in Fillmore. Clear examples of that occur when he spits such clever bars as "When bread rise, I smell profit/ Don't make me dead guys for dead guys in my pocket" with a dose of venom.
Particularly engrossing is DaVinci's in-depth look at the issue of gentrification in his Fillmore neighborhood. While it's always been a hot-button topic, it's not one that typically resides in the bars of today's rappers. But that's exactly what you get on grimy narrative "What You Finna Do?" off his The Day The Turf Stood Still debut. (It was released earlier this year on Sweetbreads Creative Collective.) DaVinci guides you on detailed account of a walk through Fillmore. Gone are the liquor stores, which were replaced by coffee shops, and gone are the drug dealers, who were scared away by security cameras and a strong police presence. It's a revealing look at what's happening within some of America's struggling cities.
What DaVinci ultimately succeeds in doing is bridging gaps. He put out an album that older heads and younger listeners both can appreciate. He portrays inner city life in a way that provides us with an experience we would likely never live ourselves. And he does it with a socially aware tone, so even his most greed-driven, thug-centric rhymes can appeal to conscious-rap fans.
Below, DaVinci's video for "What You Finna Do," a song that encapsulates the aforementioned ideas about his music and perspective. You can also go here to download The Day The Turf Stood Still.
Our "Artist to Watch" column is our way of calling attention to deserving new acts.
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