Eclipse Darkness is an artist who in all respects should have made it into household name status by now, at least for avid hip hop enthusiasts. He displayed his talent for fast rapping on the stage of America’s Got Talent, and more notably than that, he was one of the features on the underground cult classic track, “Can You Keep Up” with Busta Rhymes and Twista. I remember that song well, and how many times over and over again I would practice rapping those verses to build my skill set for fast rapping.
Eclipse Darkness is an artist who in all respects should have made it into household name status by now, at least for avid hip hop enthusiasts.
To underground enthusiasts, that song is simply iconic, and anyone who was associated with it enjoys the accolades that a feature of that magnitude deserves. Eclipse Darkness has always been known for his fast rapping. Drawing influence from Jay-Z, Ludacris, and Twista, he seemed to be on track for solidifying himself in the fast rap corner of the industry. But recently, he has released a new track which I can only describe as the odd one out. It’s called “Llame Al 811” and it’s a deviation from his consistently identifiable style, for sure.
First of all, it’s almost entirely in Spanish. While Eclipse Darkness does come from Dallas, Texas, which enjoys a sizable Latino community, it’s still unclear what the purpose of a random Spanish song in his discography was. The song features Spanish-speaking artist Rene Maldonado, who sings the hooks, and raps the second verse in Spanish. He employs the traditional Reggaeton style, which the beat also adheres to.
This Reggaeton infusion is not without trending comparables. Last Summer, the track, “Wild Thoughts” By DJ Khaled (featuring Rhianna and Bryson Tiller) was released and enjoyed commendable commercial success. “Wild Thoughts” had a similar sort of Reggaeton, summer-time, outdoor-dance-party kind of vibe to it, and it worked for what it was intended to be. But this song by Eclipse Darkness is almost purely Reggaeton, with very little semblance of Hip Hop left in it. As Reggaeton goes, it meets market standards, and would likely do well with that audience. But as a hip hop song, and as song coming from an artist where the expected sound is so different from the sound this track has to offer, it’s just a little bit too out of left field to hit the mark. Eclipse Darkness, who usually has rhyme-on-rhyme, super-speed, almost-inaudibly fast rap verses, has completely divorced his hallmark style in this song. His verses are minimalist in terms of lyrics, about half the length of his normal verses, and instead of being a frenzied, word-packed flow at break-neck speed, he has a few lines, more sung than they are rapped, dripping in reverb, with long echo-heavy repeated acting as space holders between words.
I think it’s great when songs like “World Wide Choppers” by Tech N9ne support verses from rappers speaking in another language, but while those non-english verses worked on that track, the fact that the majority of this track isn’t in English is kind of it’s downfall. I’m all for an infusion of other languages and cultures in hip hop, but they have to be backed by some staple sound or identifiable quality that makes them appeal to hip hop listeners. “World Wide Choppers” accomplished that, while this track unfortunately did not. Regardless of what is currently popular in hip hop, staying true to his unique form is absolutely essential. If he stays authentic, and keeps finding new ways to improve or enhance the style he is already known for, he will eventually break through. If there’s one thing hip hop has always held respect for, it’s authenticity. It’s fine to try new things, as an artist — but this out-of-left-field diversion from his typical style is just a head-scratcher at the end of the day.
Maybe this will just be the odd song out in his discography, as most artists have at least one or two of those. Looking forward, I hope to see Eclipse Darkness building on the skills and style he has already so masterfully represented in hip hop’s underground. We’ll just chalk this one up to an experiment.