Dog River is a new collaboration between Vancouver’s Moka Only and an up-and-coming MC from Saskatchewan named Def 3. If you know a bit about hip hop, you’ve likely heard of Moka Only, maybe from his past days as a part of Swollen Members or from one of his releases such as Lime Green and The Desired Effect. Those in the know can tell you that those days are just the tip of the iceberg of Moka’s talent, with a 15-year-long career and more than 30 self-produced solo albums. This collaboration, then, between Moka and Def 3 is one that surprised me because of the widely different styles of these two talented individuals. With Moka’s laid-back, abstract style of singing and rapping, and Def 3’s polished delivery, the album shines with the contrast and talent these two bring to the table and is one of my favourite hip-hop albums to drop in quite a while.
The album starts with a heavy beat layered with samples that appears to be both maniacal Halloween-type laughter and sped-up chipmunk vocals, firing up an album that’s diversity and contrast ties it together. Each track except the fourth was produced by Moka and stays true to his typical production style of intentionally unrefined raw, chunky beats that could be compared to a J Dilla or a Madlib style. The album is amazing front to back, flowing through a diverse variety of amazing beats and well-executed raps from both Moka and Def 3. However, Def 3 sometimes doesn’t alter his precise flow enough throughout some of the diverse beats, although his repetition ends up balancing Moka’s abstraction and helps tie the album together.
I played this album for a few people and had everyone, including some non hip-hop fans, praised the hell out of it. This album shows that Canadian hip hop is alive and well, and hopefully will prove that Canada’s music scene isn’t all trash like Avril Lavigne or Sum 41. From surfers to crack dealers, this album will appeal to any music fan out there and should definitely not be missed.