Few albums have as much to say about our present, turbulent times—our year of protests and rebellion, of identity, race, and responsibility—as does Third Daughter from DoNormaal. Emerging from the dragon’s maw of “gold rooster” she declares of multicultural heritage, “They still make Americans just like they used to.” During a recent DoNormaal show, one specific moment brought this record clearly into focus for me: On the chorus of the addictively catchy “ego slave,” she repeats, “March on, march on, everybody needs to step front, I’m going be the only one to take a step back right now.” It’s a line spoken by an iconoclast outsider, that when performed live, you witness as the careful orchestration of adoring masses, asking us to close in, while she, the matador on stage, the only one to step back, waves the daring red flag because the time for sitting on the sidelines in silence is over. On “dodo call” she bluntly questions, “But will you show up when the people call?” These anthems are contrasted with moments of too-close intimacy, (“revenge”) and virginal sweetness (“my teacher” featuring partner Raven Hollywood). DoNormaal complements her stellar songwriting with a cadre of the city’s most talented beatmakers: Luna God, Brakebill, Mario Casalini, Fish Narc, Joe Valley, and others. There’s so much to love here, from the vocal experimentation on “heat lullaby” to Wolftone’s guest verse on “don’t make me wait.” This remarkable record, blistering with confidence and clarity, demonstrates why DoNormaal is the titan of the local scene.
The Stranger picked Third Daughter as one of the “Top 10 Albums of 2017,” saying that:
Concise is nice, but when it comes to ambitious artistic declarations of purpose, I like them long, complex, and unwieldy. The 19 tracks on Third Daughter cover a lot of sonic, rhythmic, musical, and verbal territory, but they’re united by the voice at the center, reclaiming the rapper’s traditional role as MC, presiding over a retinue of producers (one for each song) and guests. That voice is compelling, commanding, even. The lyrics are firmly grounded in a quest to locate and express a self to can live—”young bitch in a pit of lions,” she says on “My Teacher.” “I don’t wanna give it up, standing still in the spotlight vulnerable as fuck.” Without the unified subject, it might just feel like a long, good playlist or promising mixtape. But this is an LP (a double LP, in fact, so fingers crossed for a vinyl pressing). It wants to be heard. And you definitely want to hear it.