DZs Control, running a little over 30 minutes, is an outcome of a yearlong collaboration between Ahmedabad based rapper Dhanji and East Delhi based rapper Zorba featuring a range of other artists around them. Both Dhanji and Zorba have had a low-key but prolific 2020. On the one hand, Dhanji dropped an EP with a fellow Ahmedabad based rapper Siyaahi Lost in AMD, a project with dox titled Boy Cut and an EP titled Drive-In Cinema. On the other hand, Zorba dropped a bunch of singles and a mixtape titled Jamun St. as a part of the PURPLEMAFIA collective.
Among all these projects what makes DZs Control stand out is the peculiar dynamic which surfaces when alternating between Dhanji’s skirting voice with a certain bouncy delivery and accent, and Zorba’s heavy and menacing voice.
Drugs permeate the album like no other album in the Indian scene at the moment. When Zorba speaks of drugs he doesn’t stop or limit himself to the usual marijuana and alcohol references which are anyways sprinkled all across the album. Cocaine, Codeine, Xanax etc., are referred to in the most playful manner. In “FORMERBESTFRNDZ – INTERLUDE”, and do not mistake it for an interlude for it is actually a full-fledged track with bars and a hook, includes one of the most mellow hooks about drinking codeine and popping anti-depressants like it’s no body’s business.
It would be wrong to frame Zorba as a hedonist rapper not in touch with the present political situations though. On “Bruhm”, a single released with a music video, stands out with its dark UK drill-type beat undergirding it. The hook namedrops a number of drugs, while both the verses of Zorba’s and Skoll’s are pure braggadocio. But somewhere in the verse the flow slows down and Zorba drops a bar which stands out the most in the album, “sab karre shak mere pe jaise hinduo ki toli me akela mullah hu” (every one suspects me as if I’m the sole Muslim among a gang of Hindus). This is no conscious-rap preaching, it is a bar which through its simplicity comments more about the contemporary atmosphere of distrust and fear without Zorba having to proclaim his politics like conscious rappers do.
The album has its light-hearted moments as well. In “CamJones Mr LUCKY 2000 2000”, the hook, straddled between fast flowing bars, borders on the absurd. Addressing a Mr. Lucky, the track starts out with asking him about the “plan of attack” and ending with how he could rap like that. In “Donz” the hook is obscenely funny, “mera hillane ka man hai jo audi le li hai mama ke larke ne” (I feel like jerking off now that my cousin has bought an Audi).
Contrary Zorba, Dhanji flows on the beats in a bouncier manner. His voice and delivery add an airy quality to the album. He switches between English, Hindi and Gujarati effortlessly while maintaining his own unique flow and accent. Dhanji is no less when it comes to braggadocio. “Kon Artist”, the opening track, and “Kaisa” showcase Dhanji’s flow on relatively sparse beats dwells on being an artist, relationship with his family and money troubles among other things.
At the end of the day, the album feels more like a mixtape and a showcase for Dhanji, Zorba and their fellow rappers and less of a coherent album. It lacks an overall narrative which ties them together. But, for what it’s worth, it’s the sheer energy that the rappers bring and their fresh unabashed bars about sex, drugs and the lives around them which make the album stand out. There is a sense of a collective effort that one feels oozing through the project which cannot be overstated. It is precisely this feeling of collective work that makes the album stand out amongst the range of other recent projects. The album has been mixed and mastered by Delhi based hip-hop artist, rapper and producer Dhruv Rajpal aja D₹V.
As the album hurls towards the end, you know that two significant rappers have arrived on the scene. Now all that remains to be seen is if they can keep this energy alive going forward. Going by what they have displayed on this album and other works, the expectations will certainly be high.