Correction: This article originally misstated the release as the EP. The EP will come out sometime in the fall. We deeply regret the mistake.
As rap fans count down the days on their Frank Ocean advent calendars and take sides over fleeting feuds, one UT football receiver attempts to prove he drops more bars than passes. It’s true — the new Daje singles have dropped.
Daje Johnson, whom students may know as a wide receiver and punt returner on UT’s football team, released his new singles on Soundcloud, part of the forthcoming EP, Unusual. While Johnson is a skilled athlete, the release shows his expertise doesn’t follow him into the studio.
His recent foray into rap music includes the song “Dealer,” in which Johnson states he “could probably catch you with the reefer” or how he “speaks in code so he won’t do time like a meter.” After hearing the release, Johnson’s coaches were less than pleased. Strong approached Johnson, saying, “You must not be on the team anymore, huh?” To keep his position, Johnson apologized on Twitter.
This batch starts with a track titled “Conceited,” which sounds reminiscent of the seminal 2011 hit, “Cashin Out” by Ca$h Out, to whom Johnson makes a reference. Johnson uses triple-time flow to weave in and out of lazy synths with the help of fellow Austin rappers Noah North and D. $amz, and, if it weren’t for their self-introductions, listeners would never know they began a verse.
While it’s the record’s best track, it’s unmemorable. “Dealer” sounds like something rapper Future recorded half-asleep, and “Foreign Whip” is an autotuned mess.
Aside from the difficulty in critiquing someone’s obvious hobby, there isn’t much to say about the three songs music-wise. The production is lackluster, the lyrics are regurgitated brags from any hip hop song of the last 15 years, and the flow is mediocre. The mixing is uneven, but what do people expect? Does anyone really think Mack Brown recruited a recording genius to run reverses? Johnson has already stated this is just something he does for fun. It’s not like anyone’s asking for Rich Homie Quan’s 40-yard dash.
It is also difficult to disconnect this release with the upcoming football season. Johnson is a talented if underutilized player and starting his senior year with the release of a few songs that break a majority of his coach’s core values is ill-advised.
But what’s most fascinating about this release and its response is society’s way of viewing rap as an art form. There have been plenty of student films and punk bands with violence and drug use that are written off as “expression.”
Rap uses the same imagery frequently and will always be seen as glorification. While neither is necessarily wrong, in an age where rap lyrics are used as evidence in depositions, it’s clear there is a bias. It’s questionable whether Johnson would be in hot water if he released a shoegaze album.
Regardless, it’s not a very good release, but that’s OK. Johnson doesn’t seem intent on quitting his day job.
Album: Three songs from the forthcoming EP, Unusual
Artist: Daje Johnson
Genre: Hip Hop/Rap