EP Review – Dotz – The Life and Times of John Rockwell

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There is an effervescence to Dotz’ rhyming which inspires many an active jealousy.  His natural, investigative way with multi-syllable rhymes is a quality which makes his freestyle battles consistently enjoyable. So how does this natural enthusiasm for spontaneous rhyme translate when focused towards the studio?

Firstly, Dotz is not a “concious” rapper. Stating specifically as much on several occasions. To him, the extent of MC responsibility is to make the crowd hyped. Something which I wholeheartedly admire him for. His rhymes are filled with an almost childish delight in shocking his audience. But his experience and desire to be successful prevents him from straying into the realm of Horrorcore related nastiness. He shocks just enough to keep the pupils dilated and attention on edge. A difficult balance to strike but one which he manages with a consummate ease.

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This EP details the life of Dotz’ alter ego, the eponymous John Rockwell, the persona he inhabits when intoxicated; by life or narcotics.  He seems to be aided and restrained in equal measure by this shadow self.  Part poetic inspiration, part malevolent wish fulfiller, John Rockwell exists as the itch in Dotz’ head which propels him towards degradation yet fuels his creativity.

Perhaps it is his predilection for overindulgence which makes Dotz’ primary sense of self so fragile. But there is reason to be thankful because this is creative artistry on the very brink of self-destruction. But instead of allowing himself to succumb to the blank beast, Dotz has channelled the energy created by this internal schism into this subtly analytical EP.

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The music will have broad appeal, as it doesn’t seek to mimic any recently minted or ‘Trapped Out’ style. In fact it sounds like Rodney P, updated for the 2010’s; with hooks embedded into both chorus and verse, it’s easy to get lost between the rapidly modulating wordplay and the sinuous music.

There is a definite skill in being blunt and remaining entertaining and Dotz is a practised exponent of this craft. His facility with unusual, non-obvious multies help tremendously in this regard. As does his rugged, scratchy voice, which gives the impression that the takes selected were recorded in the immediate aftermath of a memorable party.

Of course this is not a perfect record, but Dotz is being true to himself and the style that he has developed over the last few years. One could argue that without Philly by his side, he is forced to actively accentuate his personality but I was impressed regardless.  Despite his quantifiable success as a battler, the studio is where I feel Dotz truly excels.  He has character, an intriguing world view and a viable strain of showmanship running through his veins; all qualities one needs to really make a crowd respond.

This is not the kind of music which will change your life or allow epiphanies which reverberate your soul, but it will give your Saturday night the kick up the arse it probably needs.

8/10

John Whitmore

The Life and Times of John Rockwell is available to download from https://dotzilla.bandcamp.com/album/the-life-and-times-of-john-rockwell

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