Much like the ice cream, Dorsh's first full-length LP is a swirling concoction of myriad sonic flavors. On Neopolitan, misspelled to mean literally "new people," Dorsh effortlessly transitions from hip-hop to neo-soul to acid house to grime and drum and bass. It's a quintessentially 21st century album - - one that takes full advantage of the Internet's wellspring of potential influences.
Dorsh Deans, a Butler University graduate and former soccer player, manages the rare feat of excelling at both singing and rapping. On the first proper track, "Je t'aime," Dorsh croons "Love/you betrayed me/but showed me life." It's a surprisingly nuanced take on the breakdown of a complex relationship, and sets the tone for a record that is never just black or white.
The album hits its stride with "Big Footsteps," a track featuring rappers Innocent and label mate Oreo Jones. It's the kind of track Lupe Fiasco wishes he could still make - - a sparse J Dilla-esque beat and artful R&B sample that basks in the sound of hip-hop's heyday.
Following "Footsteps" is the equally excellent "The Mulatto (Afrodite)," - - like Black Star's "Brown Skinned Lady" repurposed for a 21st century examination of race. It's a soulful tune, sampling Gil Scott-Heron's "Brother", that finds Dorsh lamenting a female friend's struggle with racial identity. "Always thinking about modelin'/but she won't/cause she don't believe in her skin." Like much of the album, "The Mulatto (Afrodite)" is a song that celebrates racial difference while articulating thoughts from the complex racial experience.
The rest of the album finds Dorsh further expanding the album's sonic range: post-dubstep on "Belief," neo-soul on "Seduction" and "Changes:" and dance-punk on the title track.
Throughout, the album displays lyrical intelligence; on "Belief," Dorsh manages to reference one of soccer's greatest players and an Italian Renaissance painter in the same verse: "They had me broke like Baggio/ trying to paint my crucifixion like Masaccio."
But despite all of this intelligence, the album falls slightly short because Dorsh has yet to find a way to make his various influences synthesize into a cohesive whole; Neopolitan sounds like a string of great singles rather than an album. Regardless, Neopolitan is a solid effort from an exciting new artist from whom we can expect great things.