Dae-Lee “The Great Progression” (album review)

Indie (September 5, 2011)
Review by LaRosa

In business, the mantra “if you’re not going forward, you’re going backward” always holds true. If you remain stagnant & refuse to innovate or push forward, you don’t remain in place, but you’re essentially moving backward. The same bears true for musicians and Christians. This is why the Charlotte artist Dae-Lee has titled his latest project The Great Progression, an album created with the intent of peering into Dae-Lee’s life and growth as a believer.

This dude came on the scene with fervor. His debut album The Reason Mixtape was hot and caught a lot of listeners off guard. Since his debut, Dae-Lee has flown under the radar. Sure, he has a couple of EPs and another mixtape under his belt, but we really haven’t seen him rise to the level of popularity that many assumed he would garner after such a successful debut offering. With all of that in mind, The Great Progression is a release where Dae-Lee hopes to show the listener how he has grown as: 1) a Christian, 2) an emcee, 3) a producer, and ultimately 4) as a person. In many ways, this album is a personal testimony of what the Lord has brought Dae-Lee through in recent years.

As you begin to listen to The Great Progression, you immediately learn that this project lives up to its name. Dae-Lee’s growth & maturity is clearly on display throughout the entirety of this project. After a poetic introduction, you immediately get thrown into the lion’s den where Dae-Lee and KJ-52 go “HARD” for their crown. Typically a rather laid back emcee, this was a nice change of pace and gives the impression that you can expect a lot more curve balls to be thrown your way. This segways into tracks that are more Dae-Lee’s speed in “Ur Beautiful” and “Multiply.” From top to bottom, this album is pretty solid lyrically and musically. Dae-Lee doesn’t stray too far away from what he’s familiar with, but his content shows a depth of maturity & wisdom that was lacking in previous releases. You can also tell that his production has become more polished. If there’s one track that stands out on this album, it’d have to be the track “I Need a Dollar” featuring fellow Charlotte emcee CutRight. The song uses the beat & hook from Aloe Blacc’s song of the same title, but these two emcees use this as an opportunity to go in on those who think that Christian rappers shouldn’t be recompensed for their artistry. Definitely a solid track that a lot of churches need to hear before they call in their next artist.

If there’s one thing that I can find wrong with this album, it’s the fact that there are so many guest artists. Out of 12 tracks, there are only two that do not feature a guest emcee or singer. While Dae-Lee does a great job of sharing his testimony and growth with the listener, you still walk away feeling like he could have given a little bit more. The over abundance of emcees leaves you wanting for more Dae-Lee and that he didn’t get to express everything that he could’ve brought to the album. There is also the problem of being outshined on several tracks by his guest. For this to be Dae-Lee’s album, he should’ve been more front & center.

Dae-Lee did his thing on The Great Progression, that’s for sure. Even with its flaws, this album exhibits growth & maturity, which is what you expect from any artist. Dae-Lee proves that he is definitely not someone who is not remaining stagnant, but is progressing in all areas of his life. Given that this is a free project, it’s worth getting your hands on and adding it to your collection.