On one lyric of the song “Dream Circus,” Chris Wallace raps about “Robert Frost poems read from the mouth of a deer”; the next, he’s name-checking former Thunder point guard and comically small dunker Nate Robinson.
It’s weird stuff, for sure, but the ACM@UCO student, who comprises art-rap duo Day One with moody musician Logan Smith, demonstrates an impressive knack for technical rap, handling tricky meters with a certain precarious balance. Witness the last verse of “Dino Tears,” a track with spacey production evocative of last year’s excellent record from Seattle hip-hip collective Shabazz Palaces. He’s a genuine talent, even if his scatterbrained topical approach is sometimes hard to follow.
From lyrically gifted animals into the fictional “Murder Case,” Smith provides some sparse, East Coast rap piano chords to a subdued drumbeat and an authoritative flurry of Wallace verses. They make a good, eccentric pair, although they sometimes fall sucker to trite, reaching-for-emotive lines like “In my own abyss / I remain paralyzed” or “You can take your bag / You can hit the road.”
That’s easily looked past, however. There really aren’t any other local hip-hop artists this young making music this odd. Let’s call Day One a prospect with massive upside. —Matt Carney