Words by Daniel Isenberg (@StanIpcus)
The next generation of Bronx MCs is slowly but surely penetrating the blogosphere, and one that we urge you to take note of is Doley Bernays. With his new Just In Case EP out now, Doley is establishing himself as one to watch in the years to come, with his modernized take on rap music derived from the streets of hip-hop’s birthplace. His style is both insightful and gutter, and on songs from his new project like the slapper “Till We Fall” and also “Drown,” which was produced by the same duo behind Drake and Jay Z’s “Pound Cake,” his knack for next-level songwriting and ear for dope tracks is clearly evident.
To get to know Doley a bit more, and learn about the music that inspires his fiery bars, we asked him to break down five songs he keeps in Heavy Rotation. Read below to find out what two songs he finds to be particularly impressive off Jay Z’s The Blueprint 2, how his appreciation for Nas’ Illmatic grew as he got older, and why he relates to the lyrics on a certain “Intro” by The Clipse and “Outro” by Nipsey Hussle.
1. Jay Z “Meet The Parents”
Doley Bernays: “To be honest, when I heard that song, I was like, ‘There’s no way Jay Z doesn’t write.’ The way it starts off, and ends where everything comes together, I was like, ‘Yo, if he really went in the booth and can make a story that comes together at the end like that, he’s gotta be a genius.’ I don’t know if I believe that, though. But that’s one of my favorite tracks. It’s just an unbelievable story line. I haven’t heard too many that can match it.
“That’s one of my personal favorites. I still go back to it. It was crazy. Especially how he ended it like, ‘Six shots into his kin out of the gun, Niggas be a father, you’re killing your son.’ Back then, I was like, ‘This is hard.’ But now that I’m a father, it’s the message behind it [too]. There’s so many messages. It gets deeper and deeper every time you listen to it.”
2. The Clipse “Intro” (off Lord Willin’)
“I saw ‘Grindin’’ on TV, and coming from New York, I was like, ‘Yo, how they got Pee Wee Kirkland in their video?’ Then, I didn’t even know they had an album out, and I happened to be in the store, and that’s one of the first instances when I saw that cover art can really get a consumer. I saw the cover art, and it was this cartoon kind of thing, with Jesus in the back seat, and I was like, ‘Yo, this is dope cover art.’ And I told my aunt, ‘Yo, I want this CD.’ And she bought it for me. And the first thing I hear is, ‘Players, we ain’t the same, I’m into ‘caine and guns.’ I was like, ‘Yeah, I like this.’
“Then, as I got older, and up to now, it’s still relevant. I still blast that in the car to this day. [That album is crazy] from the drop, how it came in. It was really the lyrics [that grabbed me]. When I was younger, I was that troublemaker. And when Pusha’s like, ‘My momma should’ve seen it coming, me running up and down the stairs too quick,’ I could relate to it. Now, I can relate to it way more then at that point, but even back then, I was like, ‘Yo, this is something I love and I relate to.’ I was listening to it the other day, like, ‘This shit is for real. They’re really ‘bout this. There’s no way they’re making that up.’”
3. Nipsey Hussle “Outro” (off The Marathon Continues)
“I like that song because all the stuff me and my friends go through where we’re from, Uptown and the Darkside and all that, his starting line was like, ‘I can feel the excitement like I can sense an indictment,’ and that’s how it’s like where I’m from. Like with the older dudes, that’s how the story ends in my projects from generations [back]. People are getting money, and then the indictment comes, and everybody’s gone. And that was the first line he said. That line right there just grabbed me. The whole track I love. And the beat is real ambient, and that’s the type of beat I love.
“I listen to so much music. I love music. Growing up, I was heavy into the streets, and he had this one song called ‘We Gangbangin’.’ I’m the type like, I’m on the Internet all day listening to music. That’s all I did on the Internet, just downloading stuff. And I just ran across him. I think it was probably Bullets Ain’t Got No Names Volume 3 that was the first thing I heard from him. Then, after that, The Marathon dropped, and that’s when everyone caught on to him. He definitely got some shit.”
4. Jay Z “A Ballad for the Fallen Soldier”
“I like tracks where rappers, or whoever the artist is, they kind of make it deeper than just lyrics. And the way he was comparing a person on the block to a person at war during a time when we were going to war with Iraq, I really felt it. He had some really hard lines in there. Like, ‘My barracks average couple fights a day/Get you locked in the hole won’t see the light of day.’ The way he compares jail to training camp, I really felt that shit. And then, you got Pharrell on there, so you can really zone out to it.
“I really like that album. I don’t see how people can sleep on it. Even from the intro with Biggie, ‘It Was All a Dream.’ I could’ve picked five tracks from Blueprint 2 and given you those. [Laughs.]
5. Nas “Memory Lane” and “One Love” (tie)
“As a kid, Jay Z was my favorite rapper. And I was one of those kids when they were beefin’ and I was in school, like, ‘Nah, man. Y’all ain’t talking to me about nothin’. I don’t care what Nas is saying.’ I took me getting older to really appreciate what Nas was talking about. Because at eleven, twelve, I didn’t know what Nas was talking about. I could hear what he was saying, but I couldn’t really get into it like I could at a later age. When I went back and listened to that album, and I listened to ‘Memory Lane,’ and he’s like, ‘I rap for listeners, blunt heads, fly ladies and prisoners,’ I was like, ‘Yo! He’s really spittin’.’
“And ‘One Love,’ it just really hit home, because I had so many family members on Rikers. Like, ‘He really knows what he’s talking about when he’s writing his letters.’ He’s talking houses in Rikers that I’m writing my cousin at because he’s in there. And being that everybody around me was on Rikers, that’s why it’s one of my favorites. People really forget how important a letter is when people get locked up. I always try to stress people, like, ‘If you don’t go see them, or you don’t do nothing, at least write them a letter. That only takes ten minutes of your time and a fifty cent stamp.’ Just to let them know you ain’t forget about them, so they don’t get lost in their time. That [song is] important.”
Previously: Heavy Rotation with Black Dave | Heavy Rotation with Mistah F.A.B. (Bay Area Edition) | Heavy Rotation with Hannibal Buress | Heavy Rotation with Chuck Strangers | Heavy Rotation with Sean Price | Heavy Rotation with MTV’s Rob Markman