“If you know the enemy and know yourself you need not fear the results of a hundred battles”
-Sun Tzu, “The Art of War”
Daniel Son and Futurewave are growing to be one of the best MC/producer duos in the game today. Hailing from Toronto, the pair have linked for numerous projects over the past few years (notably Pressure Cooker, Yenaldooshi, and the Moonshine Mix series) and run tight with collectives such as Da Cloth. They fit well in the gritty revivalist scene popularized by Griselda, but have a narrower and more grounded focus. On Son Tzu & the Wav.God, the pair comes through with their greatest artistic statement to date.
My shit fire guaranteed, it’s like death and taxes…
Them body shots caught him in the liver,
Actions speak louder – They talk and we deliver,
How they gonna chalk him at the bottom of the river?
Production wise, this album leans a bit lighter than Daniel usually goes over, but it fits his rapping well this time. Futurewave brings his signature brand of subtly psychedelic boombap, and it is among his most impressive yet. At first, these beats may sound like your typical grimy, revivalist stuff (a la 38 Spesh or Daringer) but with a slightly more glimmering, spiritual tone; However, there is really a lot going on under the surface. So much that if you really focus on each element, it becomes dizzying (“Talk to Yourself” is a prime example). He tends to take a sample (light, one note horns or oriental synths) and stretch it far, with surprisingly complex drum patterns. There are also some vocal samples which add more personality. So while it might be “just” modern boombap, Futurewave’s beats are among the most meticulously constructed in the scene. On Son Tzu, we get the soundscape of the sun setting over the rough side of town, giving Daniel room to meditate on his way of life and show what’s to come with nightfall.
The rapping itself on this album is vastly improved from Daniel Son’s past work. He has never been a slouch on the mic, but it was often more about the imposing, dark vibe he brought rather than the actual bars. On Son Tzu, Daniel really shines and matures with the new production. He maintains the guttural voice and lazy, yet intentional and menacing flow, but the lyrics stand out more on these beats than in the past. We obviously get his evil gutter raps about the drug game and violence in great detail, but there are some meditative themes as well. On “Full Moon”, Daniel addresses the paranoia and inevitable pain that come with his lifestyle, while on “Third Eye” he considers the legacy and passion associated with his art. He generally shows greater maturity and continues to grow as one of the most talented in the scene. Additionally, there are standout features from contemporaries Rome Streetz and Flee Lord who bring impressive flows. Son Tzu & the Wav.God is an early standout in ’22 hiphop and shows great promise for Daniel Son and Futurewave.