I remember back in 2001 when everyone was repping Virginia. It didn’t matter if you were from NYC, Cali, or Japan, because whenever the sinister beat to The Clipse’s “Virginia” came on you were ready to sing along. Before then I remember when The Supafriendz had prominent features on Aaliyah’s tracks and it seemed Virginia was the next big thing in rap. Even before then I remember a group by the name of Timbaland and Magoo and an extended family of artists that were on top of the music game. I don’t say all this to slight Virginia, but to bring to light that since the late 1990s Virginia has had a lot more success in the rap game than you would think at first glance. The problem has been that this success has not been consolidated, instead coming at intervals. So instead of the region becoming the rap game’s next Houston it has become another Chicago, a region that consistently produces talent but is known for individual artists.
Defakto probably isn’t destined to be the next star out of VA, though with the emergence of guys like Lupe Fiasco as stars I might be wrong. Defakto prides himself in what most rappers would try to disguise. His logo is a penciled self-portrait that prominently features his square glasses. The guy looks a little like Spike Lee. On his songs he declares how he never pushed weight or did anything else street related, how he won various awards as a student, and how he currently works at a magazine. While he won’t be the next black man exalted to idolism by suburban fans, his music still has a lot that is definitely worth peeping.
Defakto’s life would be considered uneventful by many, but therein lies his ability to appeal to a lot of fans. He talks about the same things that most people go through on a daily basis: Love, hate, disappointment, and success. On “Test U Out” he talks about partying on the weekends. S.T.L. joins Defakto on “The Ish” where they both proclaim to be on that “grown man ish.” “The Ish” does two things, first it summarizes Defakto’s straightforward goal of making everyman rap, and second it exposes some of his weaknesses as S.T.L. is a better rapper. S.T.L. has a clearer voice and a better sense of humor on the mic as he makes you chuckle much like J-Zone. Defakto has a similar sense of humor but his jokes don’t land as often as S.T.L.’s do. Defakto isn’t a bad rapper, but he’s not the best. When addressing topics most people would consider boring (talking to girls on “Something To Say” and going to church on “Sunday OneDay”) a rapper has to bring a lot more to the table to keep things interesting. Defakto tries hard and almost pulls it off with his almost geeky persona and sense of humor, but he could use more personality to keep fans listening. His beats also lack as they tend to do the job but don’t surpass the simple four bar loops expected from even the simplest rap music.
Like every rapper from an overlooked region, Defakto would love nothing more than to be the guy who puts Virginia on the map. While he’s got plenty of potential, he’s still got a long ways to go before he can claim the title of King of VA. The fact that he produces most of the tracks on his album is commendable, but next time around it wouldn’t hurt if he allowed others to contribute a bit more. Defakto’s honesty and humble nature are also breaths of fresh air, but like any young cat he still needs some time before he can develop better hooks. In all honesty Defakto isn’t yet on the level of guys like Danja Mowf or Mad Skillz, and though they are probably the most talented VA representers they are far from the most well known. I wish I could say better things about Defakto and his music, but as much as I admire his intentions and spirit, his music still needs a little work. Flash’s review of Defakto’s labelmate Stress Tha Lyricist bodes well for the VA youngster but for now I still need to hear more before I give him my nod of approval.