Rappers making collaborative albums with producers living across the ocean is nothing new. Phonte from Little Brother did it with Nicolay as the Foreign Exchange; Buckshot from Black Moon worked with New Zealand producer P-Money; and then there’s the German production team of the Snowgoons, who’ve worked with M.O.P. and Onyx several times. The topic of this review, however, is Buffalo rapper Thonio teaming up with French beatmaker DJ Kefran for the seven-track EP entitled “In My Dreams.” This being this listener’s first exposure to both, I did not know what to expect. But after several listens, I’ve concluded that the EP’s shortness leaves more to be desired despite the quality. Let me elaborate:
Starting with “The Show”, Thonio shows his ability to sing hooks along with his raps over Kefran’s airy, synth production. For an intro, he raps with an impressive command of words and utility of back-to-back multis (“My venom all in I’m killin’ it already / My pen is all steady / The lead in it is all deadly? Sleepin’ on me heavy be scary I’m all Freddy”). For “She Say”, the production appears to have more of an R&B inflection to it, which is appropriate considering the track is essentially a love song. Next up is the title-track, which is a tongue-in-cheek lyrical exercise of wish fulfillment, specifically the kind that many rappers are customarily known for (cars, big house, platinum floors, et. al.). For “Don’t Need”, Marc Bishop lends a hand and provides the second verse over Kefran’s layered production. Lyrically, it’s something of a continuation of the title-track.
Of the last three tracks on the EP, it ends with “Vapors”, which is an ode to relaxation and essentially getting faded. Before that is the penultimate track, “The Rain”, which includes rain and thunderstorm samples to go along with the theme of uncertainty. Here, Thonio raps the struggles he has as a rapper and how most don’t understand his drive and ambition. Finally, the best track is “Welcome to the Jungle.” Complete with “Wizard of Oz” vocal samples, the track loosely makes use of animals as a metaphor for street activity, similar to the GZA’s “Animal Planet”:
As stated, the album’s shortness leaves more to be desired. DJ Kefran has polished production that’s crisp and layered, and that works for this EP. For Thonio, he’s a good emcee with a solid pen game. He’s shown glimmers of potential here, so it’ll be interesting to hear his future material.