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D. Montayne Works on his ‘Extracurricular’ Activity

Nick Anderson | Thursday, April 22, 2010

It’s been more than 30 years since Kurtis Blow signed a record deal with a major label. Since then, hip-hop has rapidly evolved from a niche scene in New York City to one of the dominant forces in modern culture. A generation is currently coming of age that has never dealt with the “Does rap count as music?” debate. These kids grew up with OutKast, Eminem and Nas being not only present on the Billboard Charts, but topping them. It is inevitable, then, that hip-hop will start coming from nontraditional places in nontraditional ways. A generation of rappers who found music on the radio, not the street, are coming up now and they’re coming up fast.

D. Montayne is Notre Dame’s own member of that generation. Outside of music, D. Montayne is Dylan Walter, a typical Notre Dame student. He’s a freshman working his way toward a business degree and dealing with the same uniquely Notre Dame social life as the rest of us. Stuck with a dreary winter on campus, he spent his time in February and March recording his mixtape.

Mixtapes have become the predominate feature of the do-it-yourself musical ethos. Superstars such as 50 Cent and Lil’ Wayne have made an art of the mixtape itself, often overshadowing work on their albums. For D. Montayne, a mixtape offered the perfect route to express his passion. By recording in his dorm room, the cost was next to nothing. Because of this, it can be distributed free of charge, getting his name and music out to the largest possible audience.

While “Extracurricular” is the product of his first attempt at recording, he’s no stranger to the music. Since his brother introduced him to hip hop back in seventh grade, he has been quietly writing rhymes and freestyling for friends. Since his arrival at Notre Dame, he has branched out, recording his first rhyme, “Take a Breath,” in September. Seven months later, he’s ready to go public.

“Extracurricular” proves a strong outing, especially for a first timer. D. Montayne shows off a rock steady flow with only the slightest quiver of inexperience, and his rolling deep tone gives a quality presence on the mike. The choice of beats is a beautiful collection of ear catching but lesser known piece, presenting a welcome familiarity without sounding canned.

But D. Montayne’s strength lies in his lyrics. He’s a capable rhymer who punctuates his songs with striking imagery, potent social commentary and witty boasts. His point of view is strong and consistent without overpowering a playful swagger. His words come naturally and, powered by his sturdy flow, arrive with their intended impact.

Several tracks stand out not only against the other tracks on the mixtape, but also from the current state of popular hip hop. “So Official,” a freestyle, pounds with the confidence of a veteran. However, the most intriguing track is “Hear No Evil.” It’s the heaviest piece of social commentary but manages to do so without preaching down to its audience and deserves a place as proof that music can be a positive force.

D. Montayne’s not looking too far ahead. He wants to keep writing and performing, but is waiting to hear the reception to “Extracurricular” before rushing into more recording. If the public’s reaction corresponds to the mix tape’s quality, we should be expecting to hear from him again soon.

Contact Nick Anderon at [email protected]