When I was first introduced to Dana Coppafeel thanks to Action Bronson and Riff Raff on ‘Hot Shots Part Deux,’ I admit I wrote him off. While I’d hesitate to use the term “elite company” in reference to a Riff Raff song, I still quickly labeled Coppafeel as a piggyback artist, hoping to ride the popularity and charisma of more established artists into the spotlight. Yet, it’s easy not to take someone seriously when the only song you’ve heard from them doesn’t exactly include serious subject matter. It turns out Coppafeel’s been doing his thing for years (even touring with the Pharcyde in the ‘90s) and has never been a one dimensional act, a fact punctuated by his collaborative EP with fellow Milwaukee native, SPEAK Easy. The EP, presented by Uni-Fi Records, shows a clear chemistry between two contrasting emcees that results in sharp rhymes and excellent beats.
Without wasting a breath, SPEAK Easy and Coppafeel announce their presence with some help from Klassic on ‘This Is Us.’ Featured by Rolling Stone recently, the track takes shape over a stormy instrumental as SPEAK Easy rides the beat with patience and precision before letting Coppafeel attack it more directly. Each verse challenges any presumptions; Speak explains, “At any point if you doubt what I do/ Gotta remember I was feared by most, without a crew/ Far from arrogant, but I know my worth/ SPEAK so well, what I recite in a verse.” Coppafeel then comes right in to expand on that same determined confidence: “…photos by the merch table/ missing all the after parties cuz I gotta work later/ tryna get my money right, so I ain’t gotta work later”. Rounded out by quality electric guitar on the outro, ‘This Is Us’ is an ideal set up for the rest of the tape.
From there, ‘Murder They Wrote’ follows up to eliminate any further misunderstanding. The message becomes increasingly clear: both these guys can fuckin’ rap and their beats are not to be trifled with either. Yet, that doesn’t mean there isn’t work to be done. The two constantly speak on the grind, stressing work ethic, but also the need to enjoy and have fun with what you do. This theme pops up continuously on the EP, and while the musical manifestation isn’t always perfect (I can’t say I’m a big fan of the single, ‘One of These Kids’), the creativity is always there and the raps are consistently on point.
One Of These Kids – Dana Coppafeel & Speak easy featuring Proph from Dopamine on Vimeo.
The EP closes with ‘Take a Ride,’ which integrates stellar electric guitar sounds similar to the opening track, but this time laces them over a banger of a beat that allows SPEAK Easy and Coppafeel to ramp up the energy. The relentlessness of each artist is immediately apparent when SPEAK Easy executes his verse with a voice and passion that kind of reminds me of Freeway when he teamed up with the Jacka on They Don’t Know. Elsewhere on the track, Coppafeel continues to show a knack for various flows. His pace, combined with the beat, an infectious chorus and SPEAK Easy’s delivery make ‘Take a Ride’ one of the highlights of the album.
The remainder of the 8-track EP features a mix of high energy bangers, and songs that slow it down behind smooth, laid back soundscapes that emphasize versatility. After underestimating Dana Coppafeel, and criminally sleeping on SPEAK Easy and really the Milwaukee Hip-Hop scene in general, I’d encourage any Hip-Hop fan to give the EP a listen. It drops on Saturday, April 20th, so spread some holiday cheer, light a dozen and support good music.