Recently three names sprung up on my radar – DONI, CURIOSITY and COTA – a collective of artists, and a producer from Salt Lake County, who got together to push their brand and complete a mixtape entitled “TALE OF TWO CITIEZ”. Every aspect of the music came together perfectly on this recording. The beats all created by producer DONI are engaging, while CURIOSITY and COTA’s energy is high, their flows are sharp, and best of all, the lyricism is on point. When these guys rap, there’s never a dull moment.
They are either giving you a passionate, fast-paced combination of bars, or they are calmly reflecting on experiences, struggles and journeys throughout life. Either way, I enjoy the relatable and well-constructed verses. Every song is a well-illustrated description of the topic at hand. As a whole, the project is a consistently satisfying listen from start to finish.
One of my favorite songs on “TALE OF TWO CITIEZ” is “The Grey Freestyle” ft. DONI and COTA. It consists of long verses, filled with stream of conscious energy, alongside a minimal hard beat and attention-grabbing bars. It is not only catchy, but it is also an effective way of conveying messages.
“Yeezy”, handled solely by DONI, switches the template with an array of retro synths and cinematic pads. He backs it up with a monotone flow that steadily worms its way into your head.
Another standout track is “Long Time No See”. The song rides on a mid-tempo but insistent beat that drives the momentum and intensity. On top, the flows show off the group’s skills on the mic. Nothing is more satisfying than when rappers can back up their braggadocio with skill.
This is exactly what happens on the track, where the beat and the vocals create a mesmeric and atmospheric ambience. Bringing audiences on a journey has proven a successful blueprint in hip-hop, and it works here too.
“Cookies Cypher” ft. DONI, CURIOSITY and COTA is another track that is hard to resist. The classic, piano-led layering, adds the perfect ambiance for the trio to manifest their storytelling skills. Filled with bravado, and layered with the emotional, the track is able to convey powerful vibes that you can feel.
The emotions brought forth here, not only ripples through the listeners mind and body, but is also an acknowledgement of the skills able to articulate such ruminations in a succinct and passionate manner.
“TALE OF TWO CITIEZ” is filled with a variety of outstanding songs like “Not From Here”, “Floatin” ft. PRESSURE, “Rendevous” ft. CURIOSITY and “Next in Line” ft. DONI, CURIOSITY and COTA.
However looking through DONI’s playlist you’ll find and endless number of excellent productions. “Expiration Date” ft. CURIOSITY shows DONI’s penchant for resonant synths. This one buzzes almost like a grungy guitar on top of the percussion and skittering hi-hats.
The laidback raps sprinkle in nuggets of profundity that manage to paint vivid pictures for the listener, snapping everything perfectly into place. “Oh Shit” ft. COTA sees DONI once again switching the production template as he delivers a funk-induced beat. This allows COTA to give his flow and rhyme scheme a subtle melodic twist.
In a relatively dry year for the hip-hop mixtape landscape, this recording stands out among the over-saturated crowd. DONI moves from song to song, leaving the mark of a producer who is growing in skill and proficiency. “TALE OF TWO CITIEZ” makes it a mission to explore their identities and search for a collective purpose.
The mixtape shows that when conditions are right, DONI, CURIOSITY and COTA’s banter and beats account for great music. Together, they cover the scope of rap’s constantly changing paradigm. All of which sets the stage for an enchanting project full of addictive songs.