The Decalogue is the debut album from Vancouver, Canada-based uprising alternative self-taught rapper Affinity Drive who blends contemporary musical elements with insightful and inspirational messages in his rap. With a religious background, he doesn’t shy away from sharing his beliefs with his listeners and throughout 20 tracks he does just that.
As the title suggests, it’s a reference to the Ten Commandments and throughout the project, Affinity Drive reflects on different aspects of life and its correlation to God and the commandments. The opening “The Thesis” is a guitar-driven sombre track that dives into the concept of evangelism and having faith during difficult times while he gives us a glimpse into the darkness of temptation on “Maybe I’ll Catch Fire/The Prayer” with lines like“All I wanted from the day was to pick apart the pieces/Put em together my way till the beat of the heart ceases”. This is followed by the eclectic pop-guitar stylings of “Real Names Be Proof” and the melancholic “Raindrops in a Hurricane”. The former is a showcase of his deep lyricism and use of reflective, bravado and stylish rhyme schemes while the latter is a crash course into self-discovery and finding one’s true potential.
It’s safe to say Affinity Drive is a genuine master of his style and on every track, he carries an off-beat refreshing candour with his unbridled flow and layered lyricism. This is displayed in “Bonafide Party Song”, a weirdly titled track where he flexes his verbal biceps over a sparse club-styled production. He employs a choral vocal sample and melancholic soundscape on “It Was Written” and peppers it with a stream-of-consciousness flow riddled with lines like “Keep note, these angels have broken wings/That’s just one of the so many unspoken things/The beast is in your midst with slits on his wrist/Bleeds faith till it don’t exist , now kiss his fists”. It feels a bit surreal when he jumps from relatable themes to his obscure rhymes, which is something he does a lot. This is followed by “Good Morning, Vancouver”, a solemn and reflective track that shows him paying tribute to his city of Vancouver. He sounds calmer and measured on this tune and the overall feeling of nostalgia makes it quite alluring too.
“yearnings of the Wind” and “Realities Though Not Beheld” are two sets of tracks that show how different he can be. The former’s production sounds unfinished and a bit serviceable but the heartfelt lyrics “The oratory vines have attached to my spine, when I’m fine, I find I’m trapped in time/I just want to be a good man off the platform/ Is that too much to ask for?” give listeners a glimpse into a man trying to be better and its relatability sure ramps up the emotional depth. On “Realities though not beheld”, the production is well-crafted and sounds polished but Affinity Drive’s flow is off-centre at times and gets a bit rushed. Next up is “The Keys of the Kingdom”, an insightful piece that compares mankind’s folly with the heavenly gifts that could be bestowed on us if we do the right things. The project closes out with “Rowan”, a heartfelt open letter to his brother and mother and the strained relationship between them and “The Weight of the World”, an atmospheric and melancholic track that explores depression and lack of faith. Lines like “Some days its a fight, Ican’t cope, Life’s a bad joke and Jehovah can’t hear me/Until his hands steer me/So one can try to blame this sociopathic father who snorts white lines” are pretty vivid and details the internal turmoil he is going through.
Overall, The Decalogue is a dense and layered project that fuses religious themes, and bravado off-kilter stream-of-consciousness raps into a potpourri of emotion-filled tracks. The production varies and to be honest, not so consistent at times but for the most part, gets things done. There are many relatable themes from dysfunctional family issues, depression, self-love, dwindling faith and insightful soul-searching, that listeners can tap into and at the end of the day, the project is an acquired taste as it strays from the norm.