Dangerboy – The Essential Skill of Staying Stuck (Single Review)

“The Essential Skill of Staying Stuck” sounds like something I’ve heard before. It’s a nonspecific kind of familiarity; it doesn’t immediately conjure a direct and obvious comparison, not as if it’s outright mimicry of anything. It’s also not necessarily a well-worn kind of familiarity. “Essential Skill” would sound right at home over the speakers in an Urban Outfitters, yet it retains an air of freshness and a subtle element of surprise that keeps it from being a tired cliche. The deep, warm vocals settle into a pleasant lilt during a deftly yet gently rapped verse, and a genuinely pretty melody creeps in towards the end, reminiscent of Frank Ocean’s melancholy songwriting. But it would be a mistake to compare Dangerboy any further to Frank Ocean, or any other similar contemporaries; “Essential Skill” is hypnotically funky, with a driving, head-nodding rhythm that sets them in their own little niche apart from other indie crooners.

But still, it’s a bit of a stretch to consider Dangerboy a category of their own. “Essential Skill” isn’t exactly breaking new sonic ground, and many of the lyrics do unfortunately fall into cliche; “please never do me wrong cause I can’t guarantee how strong I’ll be” is limply typical of post-Drake alternative hip-hop. The production, although it certainly achieves the Cali warmth that Dangerboy was aiming for, falls a bit flat; its minimal change comes across less as a minimalist artistic decision, and more as a side effect of deciding it sounded “good enough” without adding textural variation. Each element of the sound could have benefitted from just a bit more “pop.”

Yet still, the song works- it’s catchy, seriously funky, and above all else, confident. This confidence is absolutely what makes it work, what gives “Essential Skill” its attractiveness and pleasant familiarity despite existing wholly within the alt-hip-hop wheelhouse. Despite falling into a few of the typical traps of inexperienced musicians, Dangerboy honestly don’t sound like amateurs. This is a bold song, made by musicians who have a strong sense of what they’re doing, of their own style and direction. This confidence matters more than anything else, and will help them to find more fans in the future.

Pros:

  • Confident, strong sound
  • Warm, pleasant production and vocals
  • Catchy and funky

Cons:

  • Cliche lyrics
  • Flat instrumentation
  • A mouthful of a title

Listen here.

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