MC Salum’s kaleidoscopic debut album, ‘Crocodile DD’, is a brilliant taster for everything that makes the young Dundonian an exciting prospect for Scottish and UK rap.
Salum can do rapid-fire triumphalism over gorgeous boom-bap (‘To the Teeth’, ‘Crocodile Tears’, ‘Twice as Nice’), a la throwback rappers like Big L or his acolyte Joey Bada$$. He can get contemplative; ‘In Red’ provides an earned moment of reflection late in the album’s story as he gets thoughtful on substance abuse and relationships like a late-era Mac Miller. He also collaborates widely, with HITMONLEE providing some abrasive rhymes and Priya proving to be the secret R&B weapon on ‘Jungle Kids 2’.
Salum credits his mixture of bravado and vulnerability to Drake, and it makes for some good lyrical content, but his crooning and liberal use of autotune get a little saccharine at times (‘Stories and Headlines’, ‘These Fumes’). ‘Petrified, Reprise’ is a nice microcosm of the entire album: it starts with a skittery hi-hat beat and a fairly gloopy chorus, but then zigs when you expect a zag, forgoing your typical structure, placing the rapping back-in-the-mix and letting a kooky, Anatolian sample meander just when you think the drop is coming.
Not every lyric is a winner (“that girl name Mercedes/she drive me crazy”), but Salum has a fizzing, natural flow that never falters and a great ear for beats and samples. Dusty jazz samples anchor the best moments on ‘Twice as Nice’, ‘Stuck On You’ veers into spacey cloud-rap and ‘Stories and Headlines’ gives a nod to two-step.
Questionable conceptual framing aside, ‘Crocodile DD’ is a great introduction to an artist with all the facets to break through the frustratingly localised Scottish hip hop scene.