Review: D21 and Sexy Levels – Once Upon A Time In The Ends
D21 is back again, but this time with production from the London band Sexy Levels. Born in London but raised in the Bronx, D21 returned to London in 2004 and has been refining his skills ever since. ‘Once Upon A Time In The Ends’ is the collaboration between D21 and Sexy Levels, an EP mixing rap and rock, blending hard hitting rhymes with electric and smooth guitars.
The ‘Intro’ has a cinematic opening, featuring footsteps in a desert, with crows and sinister music playing in the background. Setting the scene, the guitar and a rhythmic bass introduces the track. We then step into the mind of D21, where he discusses fake friends, death and betrayal. In the middle of the song the beat switches up and the previous soft guitar changes into an electric guitar, with D21 declaring his dedication to the game.
‘Invasion of the Hustlers’ is one of the strongest songs on the album, where D21 flows effortlessly. The blend of rap and rock becomes even more apparent. D21 speaks to a female saying “Shorty want the gear/You know I get you real high when I’m in there”. Sexy Levels create an electric and energetic backdrop allowing listeners to journey through their idea of London city.
‘Attenborough’ samples the BBC TV legend describing the “the most terrifying hunter on the earth”, with animal noises in the back ground. D21 acts as the hunter, a reference to the album cover, detailing his trek through the London jungle, describing his style as a “horse on steroids/lion on weed”.
‘Duncati’ is heavily drum and bass influenced and features guest singer EC. The fast paste beat showcases the range of production skills of Sexy Levels and D21 is able to keep up, rapping “Finger to the world because they forced us”.
EC delivers a catchy chorus, centred on the theme of live fast, die young. Described as having an “American Jamaican English accent” D21’s rapping style is combination of UK and USA influences, which fits in well with the diverse production.
The ‘Outro’ is also an example of the wide production skills of Sexy Levels. The ‘Outro’ begins with a soft guitar creating a dreamy feel and gradually strings come into, compared to the rest of the EP it is quite different but allows the EP to not sound cluttered.
Follow D21 va Twitter and stream/purchase the EP via Bandcamp, below!