Object in Motion

Artist: DaghaTitle: Object in MotionRating: 3 StarsReviewed by: Paine

Despite the high-profile guests on Soul Supreme’s 2003 debut The Saturday Night Agenda, a little known group called The Electric Co. stole a chunk of the show with “Respect Life.” Two and half years later, the Boston group has since spawned Insight to some success, and now Dagha. With a thick-layered, warm musical backdrop, Dagha brings his solo debut, Object in Motion (Last Arc) to help join the heavily saturated Boston independent movement.

Dagha has a way of filling up the tracks to the point there’s very few silences. This persistent delivery may attract fans of Black Thought’s similar technique. In terms of timing and vocal tone, Dagha strikes frighteningly similar to another Philly MC – Last Emperor. “Build” finds Dagha dropping pure math and history. Speaking largely in abstractions, the MC’s diverse references will be a throwback to some, and baffling to others. Though “Build” works, other songs, such as “No Sheets” feel abstract as ideas – a troubling trait to a consumer. However, “No Sheets” may be a clever way of stating that the rhyme is freestyled, which even so, still needs to be reconsidered so early in a debut. Like many of his peers, Dagha struggles to find natural sounding choruses. With his melodic voice, he tends to attempt singing through these refrains. On “De Ja Vu” for instance, this proves to be a weakness.

Despite some lyrical missteps, Object in Motion brings a lot of originality in its production. Electric cohort, Insight, handles many of the duties. “Heaven or Hell” shines, with thick scratches, and a perfectly timed distorted bassline. With exciting beats, Dagha’s skills are propelled by a listener’s comfort in the music. In busier moments, such as “Skoolhouse Rock” the density of the music and lyrics weigh down the song entirely. The album boasts big percussion, led by “Conquerors” and “De Ja Vu.” A fast-paced, cohesive sound holds the album together – and brightens Dagha’s messages a majority of the time.

It’s refreshing to see a 2005 MC speak in a coded language of metaphors and abstractions. A young Kool Keith and Lakim Shabazz would be quite proud – and the listener gets lyrics in the liner notes to appreciate. At times, Dagha’s style falls on deaf ears with his forceful choruses and occasional sloppiness. Still, Object in Motion has a lot of charm with its boisterous production and colorful arrangements. This remains one of the most inventive debuts of the year.