C.D.J. is an Artist in the “Early Baller Stages”

C.D.J. is a rapper in his artistic infancy, only having started rapping six months ago. In that short amount of time, he’s already made some considerable moves, and is planning to release a full length EP this summer. The 22 year out of Lake Orion, Michigan, is off to good start, dropping a freestyle at the end of last year that has done pretty decently on Soundcloud, and releasing two songs since then as well. His latest song, which dropped only a week ago (May 21st, 2019) has already been met with the same positive reception, showing that right off the bat this artist has a compelling ability to attract an audience.

C.D.J. sounds very much like Big Sean, especially in his early days. Considering both artists are from Michigan, this is hardly surprising. There’s an element of hesitancy in C.D.J’s voice, which is often the case with artists new to the whole process of recording. Big Sean also had an issue, early on, with seeming too timid, or too self conscious — like he could hear himself too much — when he rapped. Like Big Sean, C.D.J. allows longer words with higher syllable counts to fit into a shorter space over the beat by occasionally using doublets where the word would otherwise be one syllable too long, or otherwise carry over the bar. This is a stylistically valid effect, when done correctly, and C.D.J. has almost perfected it. The only thing that caught my ear was that his doublets sound a little artificial, as if they were over-gated in production, or were improperly quantized. This may not be how the artificial quality to these doublets actually happened, but flawed production is often the culprit. The artificial sounding doublets can be heard on lines like, “before the rockets,” and “mortal combat.”

If the production is something C.D.J. has no real say over, he could always shift the inflection of the previous word in order to emphasize the opposite syllable, which generally allows the word to carry over the beat without the need for doublets. He does this already on his line “This year one hell of a feeling.” C.D.J. has chosen his beat well, though it may be a little overpowering for his voice in terms of how energetic the beat is, and how low-key his vocals are. Still, his voice sits well in the mix, and it’s an overall well produced beat by NYC Bangers. Hollow bongos create invigorating drum fills, risers add intermittent interest, knocking drums and very rich, well layered 808’s give this beat that true-to-form banger quality. The 808’s and layered sub bass have been pitch matched, to a very nice effect. It’s a little bright on the high end, with high hats and snares hitting a few moments of uncomfortable frequency range. A high end roll off would easily correct the issue. Also, the lion roaring in the intro is oddly satisfying.

There’s a lot to love about C.D.J. even at this early stage. His lyrics aren’t overly complex to the extent that they might alienate listeners of his own age range, but they have enough of a crafted, deliberate quality to satisfy the old heads need for more lyrical content. His rhyming is another happy medium, moderately heightened above the current industry standard, but not outside the ballpark from what his peers are currently doing. His hook, (which is one of the hardest things in song-making to do well), is extremely catchy. It melodically and thematically suites the song perfectly. While it may be too early to tell, C.D.J. shows a lot of promise — and a lot of hustle — straight out the gate. That’s a winning combination, and with a little dedication and a bit more experience, he could easily make a name for himself. As he says in his song, “these the early baller stages.” Exactly. All C.D.J. really needs, is time.

-ERINEM