Riot – Dalaryius (reviewed by Dave Franklin)

Art, music especially , can only ever be a reflection of its times. And we seem to be living in unprecedented times; from political entrenchment to the pandemic to the renewed energy driving social justice movements, and so we must expect unprecedented music. Music like Riot.  Hip-hop and all the prodigal sonic sons and daughters that it spawned was born of disenfranchisement and unrest and, even after all these years, it remains the perfect musical form to address those issues today.

Blending deft and dexterous raps, from the controlled and intimate to the fast and furious, Dalaryius gets to the heart of today’s issues, speaking specifically to the current state of the USA but dealing with a social shift which are noticeable right across the globe. Tracking aspects of history through to the present day, Riot reminds us that nothing has changed, not really. The same divisions exist and are possibly even widening. But it is no ordinary track delivering the message, constantly changing pace and tone, navigating heightened deliveries and thought-provoking lulls, building tension and hopefully awareness all to a constant, cool and wonderfully languorous beat.

And in this multi-media world it is only natural that Riot comes with a thought-provoking video to match and this is where the real punch comes from. A mini history lesson but far from the one that you will find being taught in schools, it culminates in recent footage of the waves of growing civil unrest and ultimately the last few minutes of George Floyd’s life. Poignant and powerful.

Hip-hop was born of adversity, punk from disenfranchisement and I often wonder, given the current state of the world, why today’s music isn’t reflecting the dark events sweeping across society more. Riot is exactly the sort of music that artists should be making and Dalaryius gets right to the heart of the matter. I’m just surprised that there aren’t more artists taking a similar creative pathway.

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