D.O.N., Out the Loop Too (Independent)

Rapper D.O.N., a.k.a. Don the Worker, is low-key, and resides on the West Bank. He has a family and goes to church. So maybe you haven’t seen him on local stages, in rooms full of blunt smoke. Recently, he’s averaged about an album a year, which he promotes mostly to his lucky friends. In terms of New Orleans rappers, he’s more 3D Na’Tee than C Murder. Meaning, for fans of hip-hop music that includes actual rapping, D.O.N.’s records are gems. His latest home studio project, Out the Loop Too, is a triumph of artistic, sample-based tracks, decorated with the densest, most thoughtful rhymes to ever come out of Gretna.

D.O.N. produces most of his own tracks, which are grainy, psychedelic, and wildly original, but never go full Yeezus and give you a headache. The drums are usually either extra big and reverbed out, or else extra tiny and intimate. Many of Out the Loop Too’s minor key tracks are based off samples of piano and horn solos (“Ochea,” “Eggshells,” “Pigpen”), giving this album a down-tempo jazz feel, complimented by fat electro basslines. “Ouchea” subverts the triggerman beat and Ricky B’s iconic xylophone riff, creating a bent bounce song with ten times the usual number of words. “Nadine,” produced by Prospek, and “Saturday” by Antwon Kilz, are slightly cheerier, but still lilting. Regardless, D.O.N.’s verbal acrobatics always set fire to what might otherwise be gloomy tracks.

Throughout the record, D.O.N.’s lyrics come so fast, that you’ll probably react one of two ways: his perpetual motion flow could be too much for your brain to keep up with, or else D.O.N.’s complexity could compel you to listen to Out the Loop Too over and over and over in an attempt to untangle and decipher his words—words that morph from quick bits of storytelling, into painterly descriptions of his feelings, into silly but still amazing verbal juggling for juggling’s sake. D.O.N. keeps a similarly complex flow throughout, breaking it up with moments like “No Feelins (Pesos),” which repeats a money mantra with a warped vocal effect, or “Fight for Us,” featuring a hook by D.O.N’s young son Donovan.

Out the Loop Too is an impressive linguistics lesson, over strikingly expressive tracks made for music fans who don’t care for trends. Actually, D.O.N. just made it all for himself. We’re lucky though, to get to listen in.