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Saturday, December 02, 2023

‘Bone Music’ outlines a captivating narrative

Imagine that it’s 20 years from now, the Cold War never ended and the world has been consumed by grimy, futuristic industrialization. Bone Music would be the soundtrack.

This project comes from the collaborative minds of two of Portland’s most talented artists. The Last Artful, Dodgr supplies the infectious lyrics while Neill Von Tally brings the smokey beats.

With so much music available to the masses, every artist needs something that sets them apart from the crowd. For Dodgr, it’s her piercing, entrancing voice that sounds unlike anything else.

The name The Last Artful, Dodgr, is a tribute to the rapper’s hometown of Los Angeles, her childhood and a tendency to dodge trouble. After growing up in LA, she went to college and graduated from Humboldt State University with degrees in journalism and anthropology; her dedication to education shows through her dense vocabulary, letting words flow in and out of the haunting, lo-fi instrumentals.

The Last Artful, Dodgr is the epitome of refusing to be boxed in or labeled one way or another.

Her delivery is one of her best traits; it’s as if what she says in her rhymes is manifested into existence by sheer force of will. Her conviction carries through regardless of the song’s theme. If she’s singing, you feel her sentiments. If she’s rapping, you put your things down and listen.

Neill Von Tally makes her confidence even more intense. Thematically linked, Bone Music’s production creates a sprawling setting for the story of the blue-collar worker struggling through life. Each song flows into the next beautifully—a natural transition into the next chapter of the modern Cold War-esque story.

The project starts off with dark, heavy synth and bass juxtaposed by Dodgr’s penetrating voice. Then “LLC” dives deeper into masterful storytelling. The worker’s struggle comes to life when Dodgr adds more detail to the tortured scene: “There ain't nothing I ain't witnessed before / Seen a man lose an eye a couple winters ago / Seen another one trapped by another one trapped by another / Hell he almost lost a limb in the snow!”

The Last Artful, Dodgr continues to build worlds through spacey production. “Oofda,” one of Dodgr’s singles, relays how the protagonist of the album struggles with a modern relationship in the world that has been outlined so far.

Bone Music is captivating throughout. Every moment that isn’t used to contribute to the narrative being told is used to expand our understanding of this dystopian future soundscape.

“Jazz Crimes” is without a doubt the catchiest song that I have heard in a long time. Once you get a grasp on the rhythm and melody, you’ll find yourself tapping to the beat, humming the lyrics and craving another listen. The chorus is hypnotic. “Y'all already know who dun it / Conserve ya paper / Learn ya place bruh / Word to based god we run it / Damnit / Ooh good,” she rhymes over and over.

The Last Artful, Dodgr has proven that she has the potential to pull an audience in with her original perspective on the world. Her drive to succeed gives her everything she needs to pave her own path not only in the hip-hop world, but in music in general. Bone Music is proof that staying true to your vision can result in a captivating work of art.

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Grade: A-

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