EP Review | D. Lanham & Ronesh – Ikarus Rising

This extended play was released on February 18th this year. D. Lanham is an MC from Georgia who I’ve slowly been becoming more familiar with since around October of 2019. It’s my understanding that he’s been going through a rebrand as of late, and he’s been struggling with a nerve condition, which I believe has affected his work greatly. According to him, he was going through some flat out miserable torment during the recording process, so it’ll be really interesting to see how the project actually turned out. It’s entirely produced by Ronesh, who’s a producer I’d never heard of before the release of this EP, but I did some super light research—i.e. I went to his Soundcloud page—and saw that he’s worked with guys like Myka 9 in the past, so he’s not a complete nobody. Not that that’d be an issue. It’s just encouraging to know I’m not gonna be listening to a complete amateur. With that said, I know of several dudes who’ve been present in the underground for literal decades who still sound like they’re recording shit with the earbuds that came with their iPod Nanos in ’08, but I seriously doubt that’ll be an issue here. Anyway, I’m still relatively new to D. Lanham as an artist, but the anecdote about the agonizing recording process definitely has me really intrigued. I’m looking forward to this.

1. Super Freak

I’m just gonna go ahead and spoil it. I think this whole EP is amazing. This is one of the best projects I’ve heard all year, and easily the best project I’ve listened to from February so far. As soon as this track started, for whatever reason I just had a feeling that this would be something special, and I wasn’t wrong. I don’t know what it is, but something about this beat just sounds almost rustic in a way, and the writing from D. Lanham is genuinely poetic.
False gods touch my jewels and disintegrate
False kings try my crown, I eliminate
Step crazy and doctors will need to intubate
Kunai sharp as far as the god’s mental state
Clearly these aren’t generic struggle bars that you can get from any random Soundcloud rapper. The first verse is great, and the hook is actually really dope too.
Super freak? Nah, I’m a freak of nature
It was pride, I didn’t slap him for the paper
Me & mine tryna put the castle on some acres
Baskin-Robbins in the closet here’s a couple flavors
The background vocals sound pretty good too; I’m not sure if he performed those himself or if they’re from Ronesh. Speaking of Ronesh, one thing that I really appreciate about this song is that the beat isn’t just a simple loop. It sounds like there’s a whole fuckin’ orchestra performing a dynamic instrumental for D. Lanham to spit over. The way it actually evolves for different parts of the song is much appreciated because a lot of the shit that’s been coming out in the underground has been very skeletal. Many of the songs I’ve been listening to are literally just a verse or two over a super repetitive loop, but that thankfully isn’t the case here at all. D. Lanham is a legitimately awesome lyricist too; the second verse is fantastic.
Ambulance; I’m flashy & carry hella pain
Treat the pen & the ink like a severed vein
Human crack, wrap my casket in cellophane
Y’all paper chairs ain’t built for seven games
I’m gonna be honest, I think I misquoted that last bar. I’m not exactly sure what he said, but I think it has something to do with baseball; I don’t follow sports at all, but apparently there’s something called the “best of 7 series” in baseball. I’m assuming I’d have a better understanding of that last bar if I followed sports, but I just wanted to quote the whole quatrain. His style of rapping kinda reminds me of Pusha T in that he’s not tryna show off with super catchy or fast paced flows, and he’s much more focused on the actual substance of his lyrics, which is something I definitely appreciate.
Father please forgive me, I’m not emotionless
It’s just cats’ll icepick they mother for a frozen wrist
So I see every human as an adversary
But I wanna be a leader, my perspective varies
The song is over four minutes in length, but there are zero filler bars. If it isn’t clear enough, I really fucking love this song. This shit is dope af.

2. The Rapture

This beat is a lot jazzier than that of the preceding track. I love the piano driven production; it sounds gorgeous. Seriously, I think it’s an amazing beat. D. Lanham gets really deep and philosophical in the first verse too. This is the kinda shit that would’ve fucked my mind back when I was going through my psychotic episode.
Chess or Checkers dependin’ on the situation
I’m just thinkin’ they interfered with my simulation
What if god’s maker is an electrical signal?
Would you still love life? I revolt wavin’ pistols
Wipe the universe’s tears with my brain tissue
The answers humans fear is the main issue
Whatever set the course, I’m along for the ride
I’m just tryna watch my weight, my esteem & my pride
Again, I think I may have misquoted a couple of those lines. I don’t think that line about waving pistols is accurate, and I probably got the last one wrong too. Despite that, this is clearly some next level stuff. Regular rappers don’t write these kinda bars. This is on some Jay Electronica, Ab-Soul type shit, and y’all know I love both of them. This literally sounds like ultra-woke, enlightening shit. I fucking love it. Literally every single line in this song is dope as hell. It’s scary how good this is. The only criticism I can think of is that there’s not really much variation here musically. It’s really straightforward sonically; he’s just rapping the whole time with no hook or anything, and his delivery and flow remain consistent throughout the song. There’s a beat break around the middle of the track, but aside from that you pretty much know what the whole thing sounds like after the first few bars. That’s just a nitpick though. The song is dope as hell to me.

3. Rise Infinite

This song has yet another great instrumental. This beat feels a bit more traditional, like something I could see Rapsody spit over. At first I was thinking of someone like Planet Asia, but it doesn’t exactly sound “street” enough for someone like him. With that said, I’m sure he would murder this beat. Anyway, the opening couplet on this track is crazy.
Bloods & disciples, dope in the bible
I grew up when death meant folks were goin’ viral
It’s kind of a simple line, but there’s a lot of depth and context here that you wouldn’t get without being aware of the social climate in America for the past decade and a half. I feel like he got a bit more accessible here lyrically. This feels like the song he should use to show other MCs that he can really get busy.
Tiger palm with firearms, flow is gun-fu
Welcome to the lab, bring an offering if you come through
Hide the strap behind the back, that’s second-hand smoke
That’s your man though, guess his feelings ride camo
This line right here is one of my favorites on the whole project because it seems like a no brainer; it’s one of those lines that makes you think, “How has this not been said before?”
Crack your enamel bitin’ styles made of solid gold
This shit is fire. The production is super detailed and layered. That line in the second verse about how he drove a girl’s sugar daddy’s Benz while having her cumming was cold as hell. Honestly, by the time I was finished with this song I was literally in shock by how good this dude is. I haven’t had a reaction to a project like this since listening to SaVon’s Don’t Sue Me EP. It’s always crazy when you discover an obscure underground MC like this and they somehow end up being miles ahead of anybody else in the public eye. Someone this good should not be going under people’s radars. This shit is amazing.

4. Self Reflection

This is the longest track on the project. It has a much more substantial theme and concept than any of the other songs too. He’s rapping from two different perspectives in the first verse. Well… I guess it’s technically one perspective depending on uh… your… perspective… Basically, he’s rapping as himself conversing with his own conscience. It’s like the pessimistic side of himself speaking directly to the optimist in him; it’s really dope. He kinda switches between two different vocal tones, one for each persona. The whole song is pretty much a reflection on his career, and how difficult it’s been trying to make it in the music industry. The production here is insane too. The beat feels very dreamy and mystical, kinda like something that might’ve appeared on Aquemini. I hate the word “hypnagogic” because it’s always seemed pretentious and snobby to me, but I really think that’s the most fitting word for this instrumental. It’s a really entrancing beat. The vivid lyricism is really gorgeous as well. Honestly, I don’t have a major complaint. I could probably say that the song didn’t need to be as long as it is, but I’m actually glad that they left some space for the instrumental to play out because it’s such a stunning beat. The song is dope af.

5. Letter to the Infinite Self

This is my least favorite song on the project, but I still like it a lot; it’s better than the best songs on a lot of people’s albums. I think the writing is phenomenal, and I really like the beat too. The one nitpick I have is his flow. It’s probably because there’s virtually no percussion at all, but something about his flow just felt a little off to me. I couldn’t really catch the rhythm, which isn’t necessarily an issue with the song. I feel like it’s more of a personal issue. Aside from that, it did feel really short, especially compared to a lot of the other tracks. I feel like this would’ve made more sense as an intro since it’s basically just one quick verse over a chill beat with minimal percussion. It sounds like the only drum here was a cymbal, but I may be overlooking something. I don’t wanna mislead y’all into thinking I don’t fuck with this track though; as I implied before, the lyricism is spectacular. It’s a really dope song.

This shit is amazing. Again, I was legitimately shocked by how good this shit was. There were some signs that kinda foreshadowed the quality though. The anecdote about the recording process definitely had me hooked. I forgot to mention this in the preamble, but the cover art was also very intriguing to me. I literally stared at the cover for like an hour before actually listening to the project. It appears to be three different images laid over one another, so I was trying to make out everything in the cover. D. Lanham’s actually writing is kinda similar in that there’s a lot of depth to what’s being said. You can kind of take everything in at a certain level, but you’ll get much more fulfillment from taking the time to study what’s there. Generic is the last word you can apply to someone like him. He doesn’t have the most eccentric flow or delivery, but his writing is undeniable. The average rapper isn’t saying the kind of stuff he is. He clearly takes the time and effort to actually say something interesting that isn’t just gonna bounce off your ear drums and be forgotten seconds later. It actually made me think of Ka. They’re similar to me because the main selling point is clearly the actual lyricism. Nobody goes to Ka for super flashy flows and catchy shit that inspires twerking. He’s a poet, and the same goes for D. Lanham. I have to mention the production too. I don’t know how the hell I haven’t heard of Ronesh before. Well, that’s not true. I feel like there are a lot more talented producers that I’m not familiar with than rappers. This dude is super talented though. The beats are layered and dynamic; there’s not a single instrumental here that bored me. I don’t wanna put anyone down, but it is wild that certain big name producers are making the most generic, formulaic bullshit and then dudes like this are just being overlooked. Or maybe it’s just me and everyone’s already been fucking with both of these dudes for a while. If that’s the case, fuck y’all for not putting me on. Ronesh & D. Lanham are both incredibly talented, and this is easily one of the best EP’s I’ve heard all year, and I doubt that statement will be any less true on the last day of December. This shit is amazing. Do not sleep on it.

Favorite Song: Rise Infinite
Least Favorite Song: Letter to the Infinite Self
Score: 94 (A)