Dámì Sule – Rough Canvas

Manchester artist Dámì Sule previously came to our attention with his soulful oeuvre, ‘Crayons’. Last Friday he released the ten track album Rough Canvas, which is comprised of sounds from neo-soul, jazz and hip-hop and speaks to themes of love, faith and the timeless search for freedom. First track ‘Heartbeat’ starts of the tape slowly and Dámì Sule’s textured voice rides the minimalist beat with ease. He uses the song as his painting to pour out his emotion over the sultry production.

‘You Don’t Have to Cry’ is next up and this neo-soul boom-bap beat is layered with goosebump inducing piano keys.  His earthy voice is soothing, as he croons comforting words to a love interest. We then get to ‘Prayer’, which serves as the lead single for the tape. The track sounds Erykah Baduesque, but Dámì Sule does it justice with a poetic prayer over jazzy keyboard synths. I can fully understand why the song is called ‘Prayer’, as it transports me to a heavenly state.

‘Show Me Love’ keeps me on this celestial plane and he flows over the delicate hip-hop track with effortless ease. He continues proceedings with ‘Phone Call Away’, delivering a spirited monologue about the ideological separation he has from his parents. They want him to go down the traditional university, distinguished job path. But music is Dámì’s calling.

He then switches up the vibe with ‘Acting New’, an Inspector Morse like trap thumper layered with dystopian harp synths, which he laces with a confident freestyle centered on a love interest “acting brand new”. The theme of breaking free runs through the album and he continues this with ‘Chains’. On this one he rides a bed of disjointed violin strings, which mirror his choppy rap about being chained. He wants to break free of society’s chains and he delivers this plea with a spirited performance.

He continues the uplifting rhetoric with ‘Young Black and African’, a track which resonates with me, as I am all of the above. A song like this is essential in this era where dark skinned women have been thrown under the bus, when in reality they need to be put on a pedestal. We then get to ‘Power’ which is aptly named, as the snickering snare sits atop an empowering piano riff. The song makes you ponder over life’s wonders and dream of a better tomorrow with its angelic aura.

‘No One Cares’ serves as the album closer and with it he continues the theme of feeling disenfranchised, chanting “They don’t care about me”- a mantra for the marginalized. Dámì Sule tells us “the whole idea of Rough Canvas is about portraying everything perfect yet imperfect. It is about finding your flaws and making it a canvas for everything beautiful to be made. Rough Canvas is all in the name- “rough”- to show the unfiltered, raw and often unappreciated struggles of a young black boy”.

Written by /
Published /
May 22
Category /
Album Review