Knowing that One Dae was a battle rapper doesn’t stand him in good stead, with some of the best battlers finding it difficult to transition to songs (Iron Solomon, Supernatural) and inevitably spitting generic filler rap. Considering battle rap in 2013 is on such an advanced level lyrically that once you react to one line, another passes over your head, One Dae has provided a very simplistic collection of raps. It’s a strange phenomenon, where you would think an emcee would spend more time and effort to craft a better verse than something directed at mocking a specific opponent. Yet with “Dae and Times” packing an impressive array of producers, One Dae has opted to kick some glorified freestyles instead.
Production throughout “Dae and Times” is sturdy if unremarkable. Statik Selektah chops up a pleasantly despondent Marco Polo instrumental on “A Long Way”, yet One Dae never really leaves his mark. He is sort of just there, rambling about how he is ‘the truth’ and how he murders beats. It’s all very clichéd, and things rarely improve the more you listen. “Play by Play” isn’t quite the sum of its parts due to One Dae’s limited flow whilst Evidence delivers an average verse, but JBL the Titan’s talents steal the show – not unlike some vintage Alchemist with the vocal, pianos and scratched hook standing out amongst a generally forgettable album. Given the respected line-up, One Dae doesn’t really do justice to M-Phazes on “It’s Everywhere”, sounding a lot like a boastful Masta Ace. Even Marco Polo’s gritty drums on “BK All Dae” can’t generate a creative spark in Dae’s The whole album is precisely what underground hip hop usually derides: dope beats and weak rhymes. “Abu Ghraib” even sees One Dae sum up his own sound:
“Blah blah blah, rappers full of shit
They ain’t got enough bars
Sub-par, you really want to spar?
Now I have a strong feeling you don’t know how real we are”
Sean Price enhances the song to listenable levels with his typically goofy delivery, and some standout lines such as “we ain’t related so fuck all the ‘relatively speaking’” which helps maintain interest. Well-travelled producer Domingo delivers a sinister backdrop on “Style” that makes One Dae sound like the battle rapper he claims to be, yet remains flat lyrically. But nothing is quite as misjudged as the 9/11 reference on “Earth Child”, utilising a vocal recording of people reacting to the two planes hitting the twin towers, and using them as a metaphor for the two emcees One Dae and Tsi La Brev. It’s a strange decision, misguided and whilst odd, lacks any real impact. A lot like the rest of this average, underwhelming collection of brag rap.