Dax’s ‘What is Life’ Packs a Powerful Punch — Album Review

Dax - "What is Life?" album

If Spotify numbers count for anything, then Dax’s 3 million monthly listeners equal quite a bit for an independent artist. While he may not be a household name yet, Dax has proven time and time again that he can hold his own against any mainstream rapper.

On August 18, 2023, Dax released his newest EP, “What is Life?,” the follow-up to 2021’s, Pain Paints Paintings.” Although some of the songs’ themes are similar, this album packs a much more powerful punch.

The first track, “The Abyss,” comes in heavy, exploring the depths of mental illness. Even though there is no hook, the song doesn’t suffer from it.

In the song, Dax taps into the darkness haunting him from birth until the present. The abyss is a place that has nearly swallowed the rapper whole, but thankfully, he has found a way to overcome it.

Moving onto the next track, “Catch the Rain,” keeps the same vibe but offers a little more hope. Dax explains that music is largely therapeutic for him. Although he is almost always on the move, it keeps him in check, and he uses Saturdays to recuperate.

Dax admits that God sees him through the storms of his life, but everything becomes a constant cycle, allowing him to never catch the rain.

“God’s Eyes,” is definitely one of the biggest bangers on the album dissecting the rapper’s faith.

This is far from the first time that Dax has rapped about his feelings towards God, the devil, and the evil ways of man. However, this time around he takes a look through a different, lens allowing us to see the battles he fights against the darkness of this world.

The next track was a hit a long time before this EP emerged. With over 66 million streams on Spotify, “Dear Alcohol,” has clearly affected the public in a major way.

“Dear Alcohol,” connects with the audience’s love/hate relationship with booze and spirits. While people like the fact that alcohol frees them from overthinking every aspect of our lives, the repercussions they deal with the next day are a whole other story. That’s the idea behind this song.

I’ve been Dax so long I get PTSD when somebody says my real name.

The rapper says that alcohol is not a friend, but it helps when the demons roam. “Dear Alcohol,” refuses to glorify the state of alcoholism the world has come to but also refrains from condemning anyone with the disease.

With all the powerful lyrics on this album, the words of “To Be a Man,” have to hit me the hardest. Honestly, they always bring tears to my eyes.

Currently, society is largely focused on the struggles of women and members of the LGBT community, yet men are often overlooked even though they are statistically more likely to commit suicide.

Dax does his best to allow others to see the difficulties that men go through — especially when it comes to finding their worth. Our ability to work seems to be the biggest measurement of who we are, and when our abilities fail us, we are often discarded for someone less feeble. The rapper emphasizes these ideas with poignant lyrics that tug at the heartstrings.

As the album begins to close out, we are left with “2023,” and “Life.” While I don’t want to call these throwaway tracks, they lack the luster of the previous songs.

“2023,” isn’t bad in and of itself, but songs with dates in them seem to age so quickly. Dax does a good job of capturing his view at this day and time, but repeating the year over and over again steals any lasting impact the song could have possibly had.

Sure, if he performs this song live he can change the vocals, but that just magnifies the issue, ultimately proving my point.

When the final track “Life,” hits, we are ready for a powerful send-off that culminates every word expressed thus far. Instead, we get an autotuned song that tries to be catchy and fails.

In place of lyrics that emphasize the themes of the album, we get regurgitated words from the other tracks. It’s hard to say if this song wouldn’t be such a downer if it wasn’t the final track, but being what it is, one can’t help but call it out.

Any other song on the album could have made a tremendous high note to end the album on. Sadly, “Life,” feels like a whimper after half a dozen roars.

Nonetheless, Dax’s, What is Life?,” does more right than wrong. The songs hit all the right emotions at the right times and show the rapper is versatile when it comes to his chosen genre.

What is your favorite track off of What is Life? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

Listen to What is Life?:

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Self-proclaimed entertainment guru Charles E Henning fills his free time reading books, watching movies, and listening to music. While not always up on the latest trends, he is always willing to dissect the themes of pop culture.

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