David Stouck ’15, otherwise known by his rap pseudonym Dae, has dropped a bilingual (English+Chinese) concept album based on the story of Jonah and the Whale. It’s called Inherited High and it’s available for download here.
While you are waiting for the album to download, check out this sweet video. And make sure to read more about the album below!!!
Stouck writes the following:
Inherited High is as much an auto-biography as it is a concept album. Based on the Story of Jonah and The Whale, the songs work together to expose the reality of my privileged experience attending private High School in Washington, D.C.
Read more after the jump!
The story begins on a typical Friday night, revealing the privileges that my peers and I took for granted during our weekly “pre-games,” and describing the parallels between my social circle and the people of Ninevah from the Story of Jonah and the Whale. Ninevah was a wicked city known for its prostitution and greediness, and God commanded Jonah to go to the people of Ninevah and preach to them about their sinfulness and the potential for repentance. Instead, Jonah runs away from his responsibilities and attempts to hide from God on a boat. Similarly, as I started to realize how my friends and I were taking advantage of our privilege by spending our parent’s money as our own to party every weekend, I found an escape from my realizations in my friend’s cars, getting high and freestyling. As I became more aware of our willful ignorance, I grew fearful of my ability to actualize my true potential as a relevant social critic and lyricist. Like Jonah sailing away from God’s word, I hopped in the backseat and got carried away by the desire to forget about my responsibility to give back to those who were not born into the same wealth as I.
God then sends Jonah’s boat into a storm, and the rest of the crew quickly recognize that there is some power greater than them controlling their path. The crewmembers pick straws and Jonah is thrown overboard, where a Whale swallows him whole as the clouds dissipate and the boat is saved from sure destruction. While I was consumed by the Whale, which represents the euphoric nature of those stagnant thoughts experienced when intoxicated, many of my closest friends developed problems with substance abuse and depression. I grew hypocritical, taking systematic advantage of my inherited privilege and access to patriarchal resources, as I inwardly critiqued my friends for doing the same. This moment is captured in the climax of the album, in a song titled “Carried Away,” in which I finally acknowledge the realities of our highly-privileged lifestyles, only to give in to peer pressure, take a hit, and begin freestyling with my friends on the way home from a party.
The second half of Inherited High focuses on the morning after, evoking the lessons taught in final proverbs in The Story of Jonah and the Whale. Jonah loses his temper with God, and criticizes him for forgiving the people of Ninevah so easily. Jonah is so angry that he again runs off and sits alone on a hill under the beating sun. God provides him with the cool shade of a broad-leafed tree to help him fall asleep, only to send worms into the tree the following morning, thus destroying the shade. Jonah is furious, yet God exclaims that Jonah is hypocritical and cannot assume rights to the benefits of shade when he did not earn that privilege. I too lost my patience while making this album, and decided to spend a semester studying in Hangzhou, China largely because I wanted to escape the ignorant party culture and liberal monotony of my college experience. I soon realized the recent emergence of rap music in China, and the potential to spread positive educational messages to Chinese youth through Hip Hop music and culture. Like a game of straws, a Radio host happened to sit down at a local street shop with my friend and I, and we were offered a chance to come out to the ZheJiang Broadcast tower that week and perform live on her show. Many of the Chinese verses on this album were originally inspired by this opportunity, and I consciously use the lyrics to preach the same lessons taught in the last section of the Story of Jonah and the Whale to a global audience.
Based on this experience, I also attempt in the second half of the album to speak directly to my generation from a sober, calculated perspective. I believe that many successful rappers in the US rise to fame off the talent of their producers and studio engineers. The emerging Chinese market, however, is still susceptible to fresh lyrical approaches regardless of their production value. Applying the cadences and internal-rhythms found in raps on modern trap music to the Chinese language, I end the album with two songs exploring the presence of Confucianism and The Holocaust, respectively, in the current education system of China. I hope to overcome the case of modern Hip-Hop, where the “Golden Age of Hip-Hop,” characterized by social commentary and simple drum loops, has often been replaced by advanced production techniques and dumbed-down lyrics. The last two songs on the album are 100% self-produced in my dorm room, and manifest my aspirations to merge underground and marketable styles.
Looking forward, I am looking to start a band or work with an up-coming producer. I want my fellow musicians to take full credit for their work rather than releasing my music solely under the name of Dae. I would like to release bilingual songs that are relevant to the lives of my fans, and produce an exotic sound that expands beyond the typical limitations of modern Hip-Hop music. Please do not hesitate to contact me at dstouck(at)wesleyan(dot)edu.