By Ana Gonzalez
The Darkmonk puts me in such a predicament. I want to love him like I love his mentor, MF Doom, who won my heart long ago with his metal mask and affinity for the freakishly chill (see “Doomsday”). And at first listen, I thought I would love him. His hooks are undeniably catchy, and his use of sampling goes beyond the realm of music and into the political and cinematic; the world of The Darkmonk is one of a stoner’s surreality and occasional involvement with the police. But then I actually listened to what The Darkmonk was saying and how, and I realized that I was wrong. I was in love with The Darkmonk’s producer and overall sound, not the rapper.
From first track on this True Underlord (not counting the “Indo”), The Darkmonk’s sound is established: a chill, jazzy feel with sci-fi samples and a lurking political undertone. This vibe continues throughout the album, sometimes delving more into the worlds of weed or storytelling, but always keeping the listener intrigued.
Unfortunately, The Darkmonk ruins this vibe with his chunky, stumbling lyrics and boring flow. Sometimes the lyrics are so uninventive and irreverent that I can’t take the preceding track seriously. For example, in “Text Off Da Celly,” The Darkmonk says, “Uh huh, yeah/ can you call later? / ‘Bout to show the Queen this brown light saber…” After that, even with the interruption of “Interlude One,” I still can’t take the track “Shrapnel” seriously, especially because it was probably intended to be one of the hardest tracks on the album.
Generally, the best parts of this album are when The Darkmonk is not rapping. All three of the “Interludes” are compelling and fresh computer music, and the marimba hook on “Trust No. 1” is ill. The featured artists, especially, Kayenne on “Can’t See ‘Em,” are also responsible for bringing this album to life. The Darkmonk should thank his lucky stars that people like DJ Wesu and Mobonix lent him their talents because they make True Underlord worth the listen.