At the end of 2016, Dominican MC AcentOh was introduced to the Stereoptico family through the release of two outstanding one-off singles –“Se te olvida?” and “Soy un tipo,” produced by Maeloo and Cohoba, respectively. We already knew that Cohoba – Stereoptico head honcho and member of hip-hop crew Whitest Taino Alive – was working with the rapper on more music. They just surprise-dropped 2020, their first joint EP, and we couldn’t have predicted it was going to be this good.
The five-track collection finds Cohoba doing what he does best: weaving tight trap beats with threads of grime, a style that permeates his recent Exodo EP. For AcentOh, rapping over this type of instrumental was a challenge. “AcentOh always told me that my music was ‘too crazy’ or that he could never find a way to jump on it. [My music] was too different from what he was doing at the moment,” says the producer, born Jorge Read. The EP “is the result of what I’ve been producing lately, which is more cutting-edge than AcentOh’s usual boom-bap and classic rap style.”
The pair has been trying to craft a full-fledged collaboration since they met back in 2010. Once their stars finally aligned, the process was breezy. “Surprisingly, we did the EP’s production and recording in only a week; literally, [we did] one song a day, Monday to Friday,” Cohoba explains. “AcentOh would show up, we’d light up a blunt, and I’d show him a couple of beats I was working on at the moment. He would quickly improvise until we arrived to the right beat – we would feel it and know right away that was the one.”
During the week-long session, they crafted the concept of “Caribe-Futuro,” which is represented in the EP’s artwork and more noticeably on tracks like opener “Ese Cxlo.” Here, AcentOh’s Dominican flow and cheeky lyrics – and Cohoba’s sharp electronic instrumental – find a meeting place, with sampled merengue percussion that moves seamlessly.
But borrowing from Dominican sounds isn’t the only way they explore their Caribbean roots. AcentOh explains that the EP is a five-installment story that chronicles “day-to-day situations of the typical egocentric Dominican individual, his way of being, and the way he tells his antics unpunished.” This takes the narrative to the streets, adopting a serious tone even in more jocose moments; on “¿Donde tu ta?” he restlessly looks for a backstabbing ex-wife who’s living the gangsta life at his expense, while “La Suerte” tells street stories of drugs, guns, and the hustle. “El Clon” brings in rap braggadocio; it’s the EP’s most exhilarating moment, boosting the track’s frantic beat with neurotic police sirens and gunshots.
2020 is a testament to not only AcentOh’s talent as an MC, but also his ability to embrace new sounds without losing his essence. It’s further proof of Cohoba’s masterful production – a creator with an edgy point of view. Let’s hope this is only the beginning of a long and fruitful partnership.
2020 is out now on Stereoptico. Download “La Suerte” for free here.