Born Daniel J. Kratavil in Santa Barbara, CA, D.Ayo is the son of a Korean-American father and British-born mother. Losing both by the age of 7, life began to provide plenty of material to fuel his creative growth as well as allowing him the ability to speak from the perspective of the lost and down-trodden. From verses infused with stories of childhood domestic abuse to thought-provoking choruses entailing a life of homelessness, crime, narcotics, and the struggle to find the strength to overcome it all, “Here I Stand” & “Here I Stand: Chapter II” are “true testaments to the power of positivity, progress and perseverance,” says D.Ayo. “I want the listener to truly understand my mentality. I love or I hate, there’s not much in between for me; so to go from one extreme to the next on these projects made perfect sense.”
Hiphop music ambassador and commanding rapper D.Ayo has taken the time to perfect his double-sized 25- track album, divided into two chapters. This time around he’s trying a few new things and they’re really working for him. The emotionally streaked “Here I Stand” is adorned with real personal experiences from D.Ayo own life, lessons in tow of course, plus fresh new rhymes in his staple rapid fire delivery. There are a plenty of moments between the most remarkable songs, while the album absolutely never skitters or drags, but rather rides smoothly along through the highs and lows of D.Ayo’s memory.
At every stop along the way, D.Ayo is generous with his relentlessly incredible rap-lyricism, but the way he works these vocal and poetic capabilities around situations, stories and topics is truly something to marvel at. Starting off with the opening track “Hands Of Time”, D.Ayo can’t help but be stunning with his flows. He has got so much skill that it is hard to hold them back, all of which become extremely useful on track like “Issues”, “Never Surrender”, “So Far Behind”, “Everything” and “Money’s Calling”.
Authentic and real, to be correct, he is open, honest, forthcoming and intimate about his experiences and affairs, with the hope that we the listeners can take something valuable from them to help our own actions in life, and it’s all an emotional ride to take in.
As much as “Here I Stand” is introspective and reflective, “Here I Stand: Chapter II” is breakneck outspoken and audacious, with songs that will hit you in the face and grab your attention, like “Move That Booty”, “Watch Her Work”, “Money, Fame, Fortune”, “Molly And A Bottle”, “Syrup Sippin”…and the list could go on. D.Ayo’s raspy, rapid-fire delivery, and his poetic, metaphor-filled content is definitely indicated for those seeking more intelligent hip-hop.
Displaying more confidence than any underground rapper I can think of offhand, D.Ayo is a true plain-clothes visionary. Of the two albums, I prefer the more introspective “Here I Stand” but the entire project has got to be one of the most surprising, unique, and complex hip-hop albums I have heard in a long time.
There isn’t a lyricist out there that doesn’t wish they could rhyme like this guy. D.Ayo’s mind-blowing metaphors mixed with his thought provoking poetry builds imagery in the listener’s mind that is nothing short of genius. The music comes with pulsing sounds, rhythmic soul and harder bumping beats made up of Southern household hip-hop blends, while the tracks definitely feel close to the artist’s heart.
“Here I Stand” & “Here I Stand: Chapter II” is an all-around epic and excellent project with different shades, dimensions and flavors, which proclaims that hip-hop still has many boundaries to explore.