Donny Murakami's 'Enfant Terrible' is a promising full-length debut 

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Rapper and producer Donny Murakami has set the bar for 2022 in the stratosphere with his exceptional debut hip-hop album, “Enfant Terrible.” With much more famous, industry-embraced musicians set to release lesser projects this year, the Rochester-native-turned-Brooklyn-resident released the album in early January with surprisingly little fanfare or promotion.

Murakami’s colorful selection of samples, references, and multi-genre nods all suggest the work of an older, more experienced musician. The music would speak for itself regardless, but listeners should be excited for what’s still to come from an artist not far removed from high school.

The album’s 14 tracks move quickly over the course of 45 minutes. Each is a distinct experience. The opening title track begins with incredible energy and leaves us with a lot to unpack in a short three minutes.

The crisp, bass-laden drum track is coated with a hauntingly groovy synth loop, topped with a charming keyboard riff. Murakami uses these three minutes to set the tone for the rest of the record by showing us his studiousness as a music-lover. Lyrical references are made to what I can only surmise are his influences — Death Grips, OutKast, and Minor Threat among them. The track ends with a sample of a Charles Bukowski quote as a distorted guitar solo fades: “People are not good to each other. Perhaps if they were, our deaths would not be so sad.”

The use of the phrase “enfant terrible,” or “terrible child” in French, is either a reflection on Murakami’s own thoughts or an assessment of humanity at-large. The track references racism and brutality, and on the whole, the album seems to waver between feelings of cynicism and sensations of hope and escapism, albeit drug-induced.

What’s most interesting through each progressing song is Murakami’s flawless ability to adopt an entirely new sound — in both production and vocals. “Revolution and Suicide” has the manic energy of a Kanye track from the 2010s. “ICE COLDDD,” “Vacant,” and “Has God Abandoned Us?” recall the hard-hitting belligerence of Death Grips with Murakami's bellowed, over-enunciated vocals; “No Luv” feels like the pop-soaked emo-rap from hip-hop artist 070 Shake.

I hope in time we will see more, know more, and certainly hear more of Donny Murakami.

Marc Gabriel is a freelance writer for CITY. Feedback on this article can be directed to [email protected].
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