Pretty much anyone who has heard even one verse from Oklahoma-based rapper Deus will forever recognize the emcee’s voice in whichever song he appears.
He is distinct. Deus (formerly Deus Eyeslow and Takeoff Eyeslow) is every bit as recognizable as Method Man, The Game or Danny Brown, and his potential is just as high. His cadence is reminiscent of a deeper and more casual Ab-Soul. He lets syllables linger for maximum potency.
Deus also had a standout appearance on Jabee’s “Flashes” on Black Future, one of the most prolific Oklahoma releases of any genre this year. His newest release, November’s Midnight Man, capitalizes on that momentum.
The project boasts nine tracks and a succinct, 32-minute runtime. Midnight Man packs plenty of bravado. It is an ideal playlist for the first Friday night out after payday. Deus projects himself not as the guy popping bottles in the club as he tries to show everyone he’s cool, but the guy who already knows he’s cool and requires no validation.
Midnight Man gets bold right away, starting off with squad-centric “We Focus.” It’s a fairly simplistic beat, but Deus’ potent rhymes take center stage (“Feel like Three 6, pop my collar; that almighty dollar make the choir folk holler”). The album gets a darker, trap flavor on the second track “Recognize!”
At several points, one can sniff hints of Chance the Rapper influence. “Those Drugs,” for instance, starts off with a half-sung, harmonized and catchy lead-in to one of the album’s most aggressive set of verses. The contrast plays well, making this tune one of the project’s best.
However, it’s hard for any song to top infectious single “Starstruck.” The album’s fifth track typifies everything Midnight Man is about and more. The lyrics are in-your-face — even cocky — and the song is all the more fun for it.
Deus offers more than self-important arrogance to listeners. Categorically, he offers aggressive self-love, something the world arguably needs more of.
Despite its many strengths, Midnight Man is not perfect, but few things are.
Deus could benefit from some diversified subject matter.
There is absolutely nothing wrong with a cocky rap song about having a good time. In fact, the subject permeates many of the genre’s best examples. But the best rap albums usually have a lot more balance.
If you take out the chest-pounding and references to women and substance use, there’s not much else left on this project. Deus has branched out to other areas before; he just doesn’t do it much here.
That being said, it was likely the emcee intended to create a brash party record, and to that point, he found great success. Midnight Man will serve him well in live sets for a long time to come.
For Deus’ next project though, it would be nice to see him use his distinct voice to deliver more uncommon sentiments. And that doesn’t mean rapping with any less confidence. Midnight Man has all the ups but doesn’t show listeners many downs. It’s mostly party and little hangover.
When looking for a good time, this record is the right call.
Stream Midnight Man at boydeus.com.
Print headline: Night life, Oklahoma rapper Deus builds on recent momentum with Midnight Man.