It seems like only yesterday when ¿Dónde Jugarán Los Cueros? was blowing our minds with its Dominican rhymes and tight beats. The force of nature that is Whitest Taino Alive proves it is also the hardest-working unit when it comes to witty-but-NSFW lyrics and tropical trap joints. Proof being their brand new eponymous EP from the Stereoptico label. Needless to say, it’s pure fire.
Things start with a weird goth twist in the form of “The Kill Billest,” which boasts a witch house beat and the trio’s trademark flow. A few tracks later, this sound makes a comeback, most notably on “Vuelta En El Mercedes,” which ups the ante with slowed down vocals. Not everything is gloomy on the musical side (lyrically, they’re still on top of their quisqueyano slang and sex talk); there’s also the Middle Eastern-inspired “La Zona Oriental” and “Ding Dong,” which might be one of their most melodic moments so far. There’s darkness, trap, and variety in here.
Whitest Taino Alive EP was produced by WTA’s DaBeat Ortiz, with co-production credits from Stereoptico affiliate Maeloo on “La Zona Oriental.” They’ve put their finest work on their sleeve, and made what is perhaps their most lasting statement with this record. Sure, it’s a hoot to listen to their rhymes and try to make sense of it all if you’re not Dominican. But even if you don’t hail from Quisqueya, you can treasure WTA’s standout production style. The trio does a meticulous job of building their influences, drawing on earth-shattering Southern 808s, bumping trap snare rolls, melodic film samples, merengue horns, and much more. One of the highlights of this release, “Mawashi Geri,” is a perfect example of this. The track opens with a sample from Trouble Funk’s 80s go-go classic “Pump Me Up,” but then a choppy R&B beat drops to give the tune a sleek insistence, a rare combination and a hard mood to pull off, but they manage to do it here. It’s also the perfect stage for them to unspool their X-rated tales.
There’s a moment on “C-Guap” that reminded me of human meme MC Dinero and his viral song. I’m not sure if it’s a direct reference or an unintentional homage, and normally I would let it pass as some weird coincidence, but the line accurately represents Whitest Taino’s appeal. In the hands of lesser artists, these lyrics would have been the hook – if not the whole point – of a song. With WTA, it becomes a clever wink in an well-structured track peppered with other moments of equally lyrical joy. Whitest Taino Alive aren’t a novelty or comedy act disguised as a musical project; they might be dropping punchy couplets and free associative one liners on each track, but there’s no doubt they’re spending their nights working on their music and authoring the definitive Dominicano rhyming dictionary. The level of their craft is undeniable, and it has never been clearer than on this EP.