The title of Chaz Gant’s 6-track EP fits perfectly with the atmosphere provided by the sounds that encompass the record. Throughout each and every song, the concept of a Dark City is woven throughout the sounds of each track, as well as the lyrics that fill them out. Despite the common theme of darkness, the songs have their own sounds, with influences spanning across Synthpop, Boom Bap, Drill, and Jersey Club, to name a few. Hoping to make a statement with his debut release, let’s see if the native New Yorker does just that.
“Drk Shdw,” opens up the EP and welcomes us into the world of Chaz Gant. With drums that evoke an epic feeling, Chaz Gant starts to describe the setting of this Dark City which the project is centered on. Synths float underneath the drums, adding a very Kanye-influenced feel to the opener. Chaz raps about his experience growing up in NYC, seeing the good, the bad, and everything gray in between. Chaz’s lyrical ability comes through, and paints a vivid picture of the story’s setting, filled with luxury cars, women, and people who want to see you fail. The track’s under two minutes long, but the hook-verse-hook structure lends itself nicely to the project's narrative atmosphere, making the runtime no issue whatsoever.
The second track, ”Back on Road,” switches things up almost immediately, making a surprising move by utilizing a beat that heavily features elements of the Jersey Club sound that’s been taking the mainstream by storm. While the beat and some instrumental portions of the track are somewhat brighter than the previous track, the lyrics maintain the narrative’s dark themes. Chaz links up with a girl and after enjoying his time with her, pleads with her to stay instead of going back on the titular road. New York is their home, and although Chaz sees the light of the otherwise dim city, he asks her to rethink her jaded view and not leave. Even though he starts off the track talking about his Casanova ways, it sounds like there is indeed a heart of gold underneath the mask this character portrays. Towards the track’s end, it erupts into a full Jersey Club track, squeak and all, making for a satisfying conclusion.
“2013,” follows up as the third track, providing something of a flashback passage as Chaz takes us back to his formative years in middle school, where he recalls the fashion taste he came to embrace, as well as being one of the flyest dudes in his class. Keeping in tone, this track has a dark atmosphere enhanced by the elements of Drill that Chaz implements here. Recounting how the year impacted his life, Chaz makes a hook out of naming all of the different designer brands he wore, and how the (middle school) girls would go crazy for it back. Something it seems has translated into Chaz’s modern day life. Chaz flows against the bouncy beat well, with a hard-hitting kick drum and a tambourine clap that both echo throughout, and serve as the track’s rhythmic backbone.
“6ix Boroughs,” sees Chaz pick up from the middle school tale in the previous track, and continue talking about how he got to where he is today. Getting cut from the basketball team at 15 proved to be a crucial moment for young Chaz, as it drove him to “pick up a mic” and start on the trajectory that would lead him here. Although it’s not a Drill track, it does maintain elements from the genre, such as the sliding drums that are central to so many tracks in the Drill space. It’s a catchy track, with an easy rhythm to nod your head to, but Chaz’s delivery slips off towards the end, losing the tenacity that it felt like he started off with.
“NYLA,” is the fifth and penultimate track on the project. Chaz talks about a girl he’s met who is from New York originally, but has moved out to LA and is just back in town to visit for a bit. Chaz meets her in the city, and ultimately ends up pursuing her, despite her not living here. What ensues is Chaz filling her in on how much the city has changed since she’s been gone, and tries to get her to stay after. Unfortunately, by song’s end she ends up ghosting him, leading Chaz to realize that she’s probably back in LA, not before figuring out she’s also stolen something from his house, making him even more jaded to the ways of those who might try being with him in the future. The beat is significantly more laid back than any that have come before it. While there’s a fun, boppy element to the drums that carry on throughout the track, Chaz’s slower approach to his delivery is a nice contrast from the fast-paced nature of the beat he’s on.
Chaz closes things out with “U Look Better With Me,” a poppier sounding track where Chaz laments a former lover that should be with him instead of her current beau. Chaz contests that this guy might have finer items and tastes, but despite that he simply doesn’t do it like him. Chaz opts for a melancholy type flow where he gets vulnerable about his feelings, and although he does pick things up eventually, they return to the slower, more somber flow he employed at the beginning of the track. Because of the history he shares with this girl, he can’t stand to see her with someone who holds her like a trophy, and the effect it has on him is evident in every part of the track. The whole track gives off Kid Cudi vibes, with vocalizing that’s reminiscent of Cudi’s signature hums, and the melodies that come through in the middle of the track are some of my favorites on the entire project.
Chaz Gant has crafted something of a concept project, where he describes the different facets of the Dark City this project is named after. Throughout the 6 tracks on here, Chaz uses the sounds and his lyrics to paint a vivid picture of a place that’s got little to no moral compass, and everyone operates in a very gray area. Chaz’s storytelling ability is one of my favorite parts about the project, as he tells a tale in each track, no matter how long. It’s difficult to pin down what one thing “One Dark City” is about, because of how overarching the sounds and themes are. The result of such an ambitious project is a conceptual EP that fleshes itself out in 6 great tracks.
Back on Road
U Look Better With Me