JL ‘DIBKIS’ Album Listening Session Notes

Jul 5 2017

One of the perks of working at Strange Music–aside from, you know, working at Strange Music–is getting to hear the albums early.

It’s not just hearing it early, though, but how we hear it; blaring through the speakers in the conference in the Strange Music headquarters surrounded by Snake & Bat logos.

It’s fun, and exciting sure, but there’s always work to be done. So, while turnin’ up, we also are sure to take notes on the album, breaking down what jumps out on each track.

Now that JL’s new album is here, we are giving you the chance to go inside the Strange Music DIBKIS listening session, here are the raw, unfiltered notes from the official Snake & Bat listening session.

“Strange The World”

  • Woah. Hot damn! Super rock heavy–Pretty fitting for a Strange Music song called “Strange The World”
  • Love the line, “They know the name world wide expectations are high.” I’m sure SO much pressure comes with your debut album, but already he’s delivering. 
  • I love the way this one really gives off those rock vibes but is still pure rap; JL is rapping his ass off here. The second verse is perfect execution; the energy goes from a feverish to more controlled fury.


“Two Up (featuring Tech N9ne& Suli4Q)”

      • This one has a completely different energy but the thunderous bass makes the transition easy.
      • There’s some cool juxtaposition between the hook and the verses. Suli’s hook really paces the effort nicely.
      • Oh shit! Tech! His energy is nuts. It’s so awesome that Tech has to bring his “A” game because JL came with it. Most emcees might depend on someone like Tech to carry a song, but not JL; he’s giving Tech a run for his money.  
      • Love the Michael Myers reference from Tech!


“Own Thang”

      • Own Thang! I know it well but always cool to hear it as part of the whole picture. Love it as a more laid back change of pace right here.
      • Different energy. More stunin’ less about kicking you in the fucking teeth with flow.


 “Hate Nature”

      • “Never be able to please everybody” in the intro is a cool line. Balancing not pleasing everybody but still wanting your debut album to connect is an interesting give and take.
      • Plus 10 points for the Jellysickle reference!
      • I love the way his flow gains steam. JL gradually goes faster and faster and just when you think he’s reached the limit he kicks it into another gear. 
      • Something important to note, each song so far has had it’s own vibe, yet is still centered around JL’s distinct voice and flow. Creating a distinct, recognizable sound but still being able to branch out to different styles is a tremendous skill.
      • I love how each word leads into the next it’s the kind of shit you gotta rewind to pick up every bar. 
      • WOAH! Third verse!! goosebumps!! For me goosebumps are one of the telltale signs an album is special. When a song gives you that chill up your spine, and chicken skin, it’s a sign of great things.


 “Out Da Hood” (featuring Nef The Pharaoh)

      • Awesome, whirring beat! So many small effects really make this one; shout out to the engineer, Ben “Bengineer” Cybulsky!
      • The slowed down flow is very interesting. I dig the spacing between bars on this one. JL leaves some open space; enough to let it breath but not enough to take you out of it.
      • The attitude in this one definitely shines through. Going in time and time again can lose it’s power if you don’t provide some balance; it feels like that’s what this one is.


“Saturday” (featuring Tech N9ne, The Popper & Marley Young)

      • Perfect name for this song because it has a Saturday feel. It’s cool and laid back, but still energetic.
      • Again, I love the whurring in the beat.  Also dig it when the drums drop out and it’s just his voice on the minimalist beat!
      • Man, Marley really hammers home that don’t give a fuck, fun vibe and The Popper brings some balance with JL’s growling vocals. 
      • Finding myself vibing to this one hard. When you can go along with the flow, when you know when the beat moves and with the flow before you really know the song, it’s a sign of a great track.
      • How does Tech fit so much in the pocket like that?! The shortend verse, pre-hook is an interesting feature. I like how JL isn’t relying on him to carry it.


“Risky” (featuring Navé Monjo)

      • Slowed down, with some serious R&B vibes. After some high energy tracks, this is the perfect change of pace at the perfect time.
      • JL Showcasing yet another flow! Slowed down yet surgical on this one.
      • God damn. I love this hook. Nave glides. So far the features have all been stellar and perfectly placed.
      • Shit, for a more hazy, R&B splashed song JL goes in on that second verse.  Can sex songs be this–for lack of a better word–hard?

“Catch A Wave” (featuring Joey Cool)

      • JL and Joey are close friends and collaborators so this one is guaranteed to slap.
      • Love the avalanching flow! Holy shit! JL never stops! Never get tired of that build up. 
      • That hook is so catchy! So anthemic. I know I’ll be saying over and over. JL has been killing the hooks. Definitely one of the biggest things I’ve noticed so far is how stellar his hooks are. 
      • Oh shit. Joey with the razor sharp delivery. His higher-pitched flow blends well with JL’s growl.
      • Again, I’m singing along and I don’t even know the words.
      • Oh also… this bass! Need to bump this in the whip.



      • MOTHERFUCKING ¡MAYDAY! on the beat!!! Goes hard, but has an almost topical sound…like going on to a Metallica show in the Caribbean. 
      • Damn. We haven’t heard that swaying, accentuated flow from JL; he keeps showing new approach. 
      • Again such an anthemic hook! JL killing these hooks!
      • This one is unique in sound and energy. It goes hard, but has some humor and charisma to it.


“Technology” (featuring Tech N9ne)

      • The dripping beat mixed with some flawless spitting. This one kind of has an old-school Strange vibe no?
      • “Bengineer” killed again–that small little whurr at the end of every line is too perfect.
      • God damn JL crams so much into a bar and still makes it sound so natural…You can vibe out but still gotta listen…
      • I love what Tech came with on this one. He’s more laid back. Also, the dick meme made me laugh; leave it to tech to be X-rated…
      • This song has a vibe all it’s own. Definitely a stand out!


“Fuck Everything”

      • Hahaha! That intro is cool!
      • Holy fuck! The energy! The Anger…. Woah! The bass kicks!
      • Can we hear the edited version?
      • This is a shorter effort, but certainly packs a punch!
      • Cool phone skit at the end. Love small little things like that can add a different flavor.


“Done To Me” (featuring Wrekonize)

      • OOOOO this Wrek hook! OOOO that guitar! A few seconds in and I’m already sold. 
      • Wonder how this one will progress…I relish in that first listen, because it’s kind of exciting not knowing what to expect. 
      • One of the more unique songs on the album. This far in and JL still showing different approaches. 
      • Love break up songs that aren’t too sappy. It still goes hard but definitely more emotional. Great track!



      • Woah! yet another brand new vibe. This one has a real old school hip-hop feel with those drums and the scratches. 
      • Wow!.JL showing his range lyrically…Love songs, club bangers, breakup songs now social commentary? He can really do it all. 
      • Dig the inflection he puts on “television set.” Sounds small, but its the little things like that that make songs stay with you
      • Great hook. Bre The 1st Lady adds another layer of emotion. 
      • “Used the power of media to get rid of you.” Some really lyrical shit here but still has as much energy as the club tracks…. Makes you think, but still makes you bob your head.
      • Ohhhhh! Digging that breakdown–the scratches, the singing, the echo the snaps–such a cool transition. YEAHHHH!  BUILD THAT SHIT BACK UP! Build up, breakdown, build it up like Legos. I love this tracks progression.
      • Such a well put together track from the lyrics, to the beat, to the structure. Flawless.


“Elevated” (featuring Krizz Kaliko, Emilio Rojas, Joey Cool & Adrian Truth)

      • Hazy start but those drums make me think it’s gonna come in hard…Yup!
      • WOW! that double time flow always gets me.
      • Such a cool, kind of off-kilter, wobbly feel.
      • Emilio Rojas is a nice addition; this posse cut is filled with some real talent. No weak spot. 
      • Such a big tune…definitely one of the biggest to wrestle down but still hits. I’m just bouncing in my chair…
      • Krizz with that kind of wavy flow! Woah! Krizz! I’ve never heard that flow before!
      • Between all the features, that hook, and the beat this is one of the biggest efforts…Even this late into it, JL is pulling out all the stops. 


“This Time” (featuring Church Boi)

      • Another change of pace. Almost spoken word with the minimalist beat. Really makes you savor every word.
      • Jeez. JL got more pockets than cargo pants!
      • Holy shit…Snapping over an almost R&B song. Crazy. Man, this one is so powerful and inspiring. Even on the last song on the album JL is going in. 
      • Church Boi taking ’em to church! So Powerful!
      • Cool little outro too…at least i think its an outro..unless JL feels like kickin my ass again; always gotta be aware of him ripping it unexpectedly…love that felling…suspense like a horror movie.
      • Feels like a fitting end to the album. Nothing abrupt, but a nice, slow outro coolin’ you down after a heater of an album.


Closing Thoughts:

      • Wow. One hell of a debut!
      • I knew JL could spit, but DIBKIS shows he’s not just a chopper. He creates full songs with great hooks and fleshed out concepts.
      • JL has so many styles but never feels out of his element. I feel like I could show this to anyone and find at least a few tracks they rock with; so many styles.
      • At the same time, he still has his signature style–carried by his growl–so no matter what style he’s doing it sounds like JL.
      • Hard to believe this is his first Strange album, he sounds so polished and carries himself like a veteran.
      • I know it’s so new still, but I can’t help but to be excited for what’s next because DIBKIS is that impressive and it’s just the beginning.