WebsterX brings dusk and dawn together on his moody and moving debut Daymares, where each song is its own cinematic experience.
Coming out of Milwaukee, WebsterX is in a new class of hometown hero, making an album that his fans are describing as the “soundtrack for the dreamer.” The full length successor to his 2013 effort Desperate Youth, Daymares showcases WebsterX coming to terms with himself and coming into his own as an artist. He carries this debut album almost entirely on his back, and the production is shouldered by a host of talents including oddCouple, BoatHouse, and Q The Sun. There is so much to love and take away from this project — the vocal work, the flows, the beats, the message — that it’s absolutely time to stop sleeping on WebsterX and Daymares.
From the title we can see that Webster is trying to find a balance between light and dark, which he puts front and center on opener “Nightmares.” We hear him struggling with his demons as he gasps “I don’t wanna be dark/ I don’t wanna be dark,” followed by taking us right into his “dreaded dreams.” There’s a ton of conviction behind Webster’s delivery, we can hear how vexed and anxious he is going into the final third of the track. The vocals smooth out and the beat brightens up to sound like we’re approaching daybreak: a blueprint for the album.
A lot of the tracks on this project follow a similar path: the beat giving way to some flourishes, which give off a distinct “I’ve arrived” feeling. Cuts like “Lost Ones” and “Underground” feature a nice interplay of hopeful vocals and wistful synths. Even a pure come-up track like “Future Projections,” with its chilly keys, still carries a strong sense of better days, especially when he drops the “WebsterX, goddamn he’s next” line with a catching twinge of cheek. His aggression comes off pressed against his teeth on single “Blue Streak.” Still, the final verse/skit of this track is “signed and sealed with a sense of accomplishment.” WebsterX sounds so hungry and so determined on this track, it’s hard not to root for him.
Though the project has a lot of somber themes, WebsterX doesn’t drown in any one emotion or sentiment, and some of the flows on this album are just mean. He shows his teeth on “Until I,” rapping about his struggles with depression:
“You know what the worst part of waking up is?
Delirious fogs, heart beating anxious
You know what the scariest feeling might be?
Remembering that shit wasn’t always like this.”
The album has its share of feel-good moments with “Moods,” “Skin,” and “Endless.” The opening notes on “Moods” sound like a slow sunrise, and the hook has some tactful positivity. This cut is the good kind of catchy: a song I never mind having in my head all day. “Skin” is another uplifting moment with a positive message, but the slight switch-up in the beat has WebsterX sounding out of place. Something about the delivery or the way he lands on the beat seems off in comparison with the rest of the project, where we hear him working well within the beat and rapping with some virtuosity.
Final track “Endless” is the brightest moment on the album, featuring WebsterX overcoming and “this calls for endless celebrations.” We have simple and optimistic keys driving the mood of the track, and WebsterX plays with the inflections of his voice before slipping into the velvet atmosphere of the hook. Of course, like any good debut outro track there’s a handful of heartfelt shoutouts to close the album.
Daymares ends up being a celebration of the moments of light that peek through during the darkest times. All over this album we hear WebsterX getting vulnerable, feeling low and feeling better, and his technical rap skill is undeniable. Almost every beat is tailored to his cadence and fits his flows. This debut is strong as far as debuts are concerned, and accomplishes the task of helping me get to know WebsterX as an artist and as a person. I’m exciting to see where he takes his sound and his content now that we have such a clear image of who he is and where he has been.