In his new single “Demon,” rapper Fresh Da Zoe turns his focus to the straightforward element of his sound and entirely abandons the notion of commerciality in his artistry at the door. From the moment we press the play button forward, Zoe is on top of us with a rhythmic swing from the strings that instantly clears up even the cloudiest of days. There’s a strong pop sensibility to the construction of the hook, but even at its most nimble and streamlined, there isn’t a speck of artificiality for us to look past here. “Demon” is good old fashioned hip-hop for a generation that needs a shot of aural vitality amid the uncertain times presented by contemporary music.
The tempo has a wonderful swing to it here, and this influences the mood of the music in more ways than one. For starters, the melody captures and ultimately extends the aggressive attitude of the percussion when we get into the chorus, and in the refrain, the absence of a substantial groove highlights the emotionality in Zoe’s words better than anything else possibly could have. On more than one occasion, “Demon” flirts with the boundaries that separate indie hip-hop from a more mainstream strain of the genre, but never does it feel like the embodiment of a rapper-songwriter’s selling-out; quite the opposite, truth be told. There’s a lot of passion in every element of the music, and that just can’t be said for a lot of the new hip-hop charting well this spring.
Music video for “Demon” by Fresh Da Zoe
I’m only mildly familiar with the extended discography of Fresh Da Zoe, but I do think that his performance in “Demon” could boast his most sterling vocal so far. He’s showing off a lot of growth from behind the mic, and although there’s a lot of emotion born of the lyrics here, none of it would be even remotely accessible to us were it being presented by a different rapper. Zoe has a signature sound, and if there was any sort of debate as to whether or not this was the case before the release of this latest single, I think the argument is going to be put to bed permanently now.
Fresh Da Zoe has come a long way in the short time he’s been in the underground spotlight, and judging from the ambitious stylization of this most recent studio offering, his career is destined for bigger and better things just around the corner. 2023 has been a somewhat transitional year for hip-hop music in general, and for indie artists like this one, it’s been a trying time staying afloat with the lack of live performance resources from one end of the world to the next. Nevertheless, Zoe is breaking out the big guns for “Demon,” and if you ask me, I think he deserves to be lauded as one of the more focused rappers in his peer group this season. He’s cool, calm, and collected, and we could use more of that in hip-hop from around the world nowadays.