Senior Damari Withers, better known by his stage name, DamarTheEmcee, calls his first official full length project a collection of songs rather than an album or mixtape.
“Unorthodox Poetry Pieces,” or “UPP” for short, is compiled of 12 tracks and is presented by Pembroke-founded Champion Sound Recordings.
A Charlotte native, Withers began his music career when he was 9-years-old with the help and inspiration from his father, who was an artist and is the founder of the Charlotte based label, Yacky Entertainment.
When he was in middle school, Withers found a passion for poetry and performed his work in churches and small venues where he noticed he had a knack for performing.
The soon-to-be graduate reignited his love for creating music after finishing high school and began seriously making music around his sophomore year of college.
Since then, he created several songs, including “RockBand” and was featured on songs made by other UNCP students affiliated with Champion Sound, a division of independent artists who support and collaborate with each other.
The theme of “Unorthodox Poetry Pieces” focuses on the act of progression. It touches on his growth as an artist, student and person. Bridging the gap between intellect and creativity, the abstract and poetic flow of all 12 songs helps the project live up to its title.
“UPP,” in its own way, meets the philosophical messages of Hip-Hop legends Saul Williams and KRS-One, while matching the energy and enthusiasm of rappers Ja Rule, Ludacris and Lil’ Wayne.
Withers also admitted that he is heavily influenced and intrigued by the message and style of J. Cole, Kendrick Lamar, Isaiah Rashad, Andre 3000 and Mick Jenkins.
The project begins with the gospel-like vocals of “Awakening (Intro),” which does exactly that - awakens listeners to the different themes and ideologies they have towards topics such as religion and social conformity.
The previously noted theme of growth is found in the lyrics,
“Lost my faith just to build that s**t back up/Met depression just to cheat on her with love,” and it is rolled over to the melodious scatting and piano playing of “Viiibrate.”
The mixtape then picks up with the powerful bassline of “Manifest,” to match its powerful message of determination.
The theme of growth and progression is found again in the lyrics, “Sometimes you got to be by your lonely/You gotta know you, and trust you” of “BadMofo,” where he also references his two main influences with the lyrics, “Tell Cole and Kendrick that they inspired the greatest.”
“Queen City Rider” then pays homage to his hometown and expresses the importance of originality and freedom of expression in the song “Buoyancy,” featuring singer Arie Elle.
Overall, “UPP” deserves the highest of accolades for its motivational message and its original and organic content.
The tape shows a meticulous layering of production: vocals, the use of live instruments and the adlibs between the lines, which were carefully constructed to convey the omnipresent subject of character development.
“Unorthodox Poetry Pieces” is more than worth listening to. It can be found on all major music streaming platforms including Apple Music, Google Play and Spotify. The proceeds from the project will go towards a scholarship fund awarded to a member of the Young Black Male Leadership Alliance, a Charlotte-based nonprofit organization that Withers has been a member of since he was 13.