Otis Fonde is not green to TWIB and with more than a handful of singles under his belt, he concludes 2023 with his full-length project titledDon’t Look Down. The 10-track project is brimming with hard-hitting beats and rich lyricism and songwriting that focuses on the rapper’s life experiences.
“Grandma’s Baby” serves as the opening track that ushers listeners into Otis’ world. With a haunting choral intro and moody soundscape, Otis steps up with razor-sharp flows and graphic lyrics like “I’m inviting the witnesses, y’all gotta see this shit/Killing these niggaz now tell ‘em who did it?/I’m from Virginia, don’t ‘bout my business, you come up missing like damn he wasn’t kidding” and a catchy hook to match. The track concludes with a short vocal snippet fromMoney Lou. The next track “Juice” sees Otis flexing on the opposition as he raises the ante with this hard-hitting tune. Over the scenic textures and thick 808 kick-driven backdrops, Otis gets down to business and lays down the law for those who are not familiar with his persona. “Still Up” starts with an anthemic brass stab with pulsating bass-lines, machine gun hi-hats and snapping snares underpinned by the rappers’ fiery flow and bravado-laden bars that center on securing the bag. “Big Ol Racks” continues the energetic sounds and here Otis employs a bright and punchy backdrop as his canvass to paint his go-getter tales as he proceeds to show listeners a different side to his style.
“Too Hot for Henny” has a soulful vocal sample that adds the much-needed warmth to the track and we get to see Otis in a somewhat vulnerable mood as he pours adulation on a special someone who caught his eye. Heartfelt lyrics like “When I talk you always pay attention? I’m schooling life but there’s a few things that I’d failed to mention/When we met I was in the midst of a transition and I hid the truth just like a politician” where he admits his flaws and reassures her that he is going to do better.
Next is “It Is What It Is”, a vivid tale about his never-ending struggles and how he is taking his career to a higher plateau while letting go of the deadweight while the retro-tinged “Thoughts on Jefferson Ave” is a reflective one that centers around the concept of self-belief and drowning out the naysayers and detractors. “La Familia” has a scenic and dark soundscape which forms the perfect backdorp for Otis’ intimate tales and expressive flows while “Type” has a haunting and ominous sample that sounds like a scene from an 80s horror flick. Here, Otis sends not-so-subtle shots at the people who fake it just to make it. The project closes out with “Yachtzee”, a reflective track made up of solemn and atmospheric textures and punchy trap drums underpinned by Otis insightful lyrics that explore his growth and the many experiences that shaped him into a better man.
Overall, Don’t Look Down has a cohesive sound and the subject matter is relatable and engaging. Lyric-wise, Otis doesn’t attempt to go over our heads and he keeps it down to Earth at all times.