FearDorian’s debut album mines rap gold from young strife

The beats of FearDorian triple down on this tendency. They channel the cloud rap of yesteryear, tapping obscure samples and teasing moments of unexpected beauty with a new glossy polish. It’s a keen step for an album of such raw emotion; across the project, Dorian reckons with many of the same agonies other teenagers his age deal with while noting how his nascent music career exacerbates them. “Cut a few off so my friends look different / And I’m passin’ them up but they scared to admit it,” he raps in a haggard monotone on “Highschool” as angelic piano keys twinkle.

Abandonment is a recurring theme in Dorian’s raps, whether it’s from a parent or a friend. On “Can’t Cry,” another highlight from the album, Dorian raps about his absent father, present blessings, and future ambitions: “Hardships ain’t forever, man, that shit’s a season / And I gotta keep my head straight, that’s my only weakness.” The hard-earned wisdom is all the more tragic considering he only recently became old enough to drive. His voice on the album is weary, and vocal effects are almost entirely absent, bringing a deep, documentary-like grit to the songs. Like the best rapper/producers, FearDorian is as interested in creating a vibe as he is in being truly heard.