DeuceLikePoop – Unprofessional – Album Review

DeuceLikePoop – Unprofessional – Album Review

As a rapper from Louisville, Kentucky, DeuceLikePoop knows what it’s like to live at a regional crossroads. It seems to be unanimous among residents that Louisville, the largest city in Kentucky with just over a million residents in the metro area, is both Midwestern and Southern, but in addition, it is just a half day’s drive from the big cities of the East Coast. It’s largely a reasonably affordable, highly diverse, and culturally resonant environment and could be described as one of the last intact cultural melting pot cities in the United States.

Deuce has three previous full-length releases to his name so far, and in this, as in all of his other work, he is in it to fuck with people’s heads lyrically. He stands firmly in the spirit of saying shit just to say it and flexing one’s originality for its own sake, which is a clear referent of classic rap that runs subtly throughout Unprofessional. It takes the form of 7 quick songs clocking in at under 20 minutes. For this and other reasons, I would be more likely to call this work a mixtape, though it could also be considered an EP.

As a rule, Deuce avoids features altogether, likely as a means of preserving the singleminded first-person perspective of the project. Though rare, this is also not unheard of when it comes to albums by underground artists.  Yes, they may have many friends, but they aren’t about to appear on this record with them. The album (or perhaps mixtape) itself may run in the same vein as Awful Records or maybe specifically a Father album, but there is not even a hint of that group’s collective spirit in this particularly personal project; it’s an individualistic endeavor.

Deuce has come up with a group of songs that, for the most part, would not seem out of place on a playlist with other raps from this era but that also have immediately evident qualities of timelessness that jump immediately out of the headphones on first listen. The production takes a back seat to the lyrics, largely mixed unobtrusively under the vocals, though it is clear that the ear for beats is excellent, and it seems like he can flow smoothly over just about anything without stumbling.

This work of ars gratia artis exhibits little to no deference to any commercial trends, featuring far more reflective and abstract content than would usually be intended for widespread commercial appeal. For this, Deuce is to be commended, as it is clear that he has no rules restricting him from going anywhere his mind takes him when it comes to these compositions.

Distinctively underground signifiers crop up quickly, from MPC-style beats with human-sounding time variations to mostly dry vocal tracks, not to mention the very practice of soul samples juxtaposed with introspection itself. The overlap among first takes, freestyles, demos, and intentionally lo-fi rap is exploited as part of the material. At times, Deuce even sounds like he is freestyling and using placeholder vocal sounds for words yet to be written.

Since the album plays with this concept of incorporating demos, sessions, and freestyles, the effect is at times much like a mixtape such as Faces, derived from a series of Mac Miller shed sessions and the associated MPC chops. Where many rap artists obsess over vocal effects, multitracked vocals, syncopated drums, and so on, this project is mostly a straightforward endeavor of very lightly processed signals.

The first track, “Get Money Mood,” features a fantastic vinyl-crackling soul sample and a burst of sparkling reflective lyrics. The rest of the track functions as an intro, as the beat breathes under spoken word samples, establishing the foundation of boom-bap that strongly influences Deuce’s music.

“Altoid” sounds like an underground take on Atlanta trap with dry vocals that are unconventional for the genre, though Deuce does work in some doubling and adlibs. It’s notable that most of the songs on the record feature just one mostly dry vocal track, high in the mix, which may be an indication that he wants his lyrics to speak for themselves. The song style brings to mind some of the great work by Young Thug on the Slime Season series, with Deuce somewhat uncharacteristically talking shit throughout.

“Hieronymous Bosch” begins with a palate-cleansing Gregorian mantra that reveals itself to be synthesized and intentionally artificial, quickly giving way to the most straightforward throwback jam on the album. Reminiscent of Wiki and Navy Blue, the vocals are treated with tight cutoff filters and bit reduction, placing the style firmly on the East Coast. Clocking in at under two minutes, this is an example of a track that could possibly be considered unfinished and could do with expansion into further themes in the future.

Two of the tracks, “You The One” and “Tie Me Down,” are more experimental and less genre-specific. “You the One” seems to be intentionally sarcastic in its sparse mixing and offhand vocals, yet among this album’s tracks, it’s the most likely to be a work still in progress. Even so, when Deuce goes in with sped up cadence in the middle of the song, he flits through various evocative images as smoothly as always,

“Tie Me Down” shares a similar, rather unprocessed-sounding vocal mix that makes one wonder how a promising song might sound in a later version. This killer beat straddles the worlds of cloud rap and Working on Dying. Sparse though they are, Deuce’s vocals showcase three separate strong melodic ideas and styles, and the song breaks the fourth wall at the end to make reference to the fact that it may well be, at this current time, composed of first takes and freestyles.

Interestingly titled “The Worst Track,” one of the album’s standouts is a return to boom-bap territory. One of several songs with a pleasantly Fruity Loops aspect to the backing track, this one also features Deuce showcasing his ability to easily navigate complex flows, not to mention his trademark of entire verses at a time consisting of one single dizzyingly eclectic sentence. The strongest parts of this track bring to mind some of the current New York rappers who excel over chopped classical music, such as YOD.

The album ends with a minute-long outro or teaser, “Until Next Time, See Ya,” which has another great MPC beat and a vocal style that could explicitly reference MF Doom. As with most of these songs, I would be interested in hearing any additional verses in the future.



Having explicitly called out anyone to rap better than him in the intro to his previous album, Playlist III, on this record, Deuce also shows himself capable of rappelling fearlessly into the involuted caverns of his own psychic impressions while challenging the listener to follow. The challenge to haters is more of an implication on this record, but it still rings out: could you rap fearlessly about your own psyche like this, and how deep can you go?

Whether Deuce will stick with a DIY aesthetic or move on to more thickly produced and ornamented productions remains to be seen. As it stands, the skills and techniques on display on this record are fully valid, and it may be a simple matter of vocal retakes to refine some of these tracks to a thoroughly finished state in the future.



Songwriting: 68/100

  • Originality to the Genre 65/100
  • Creativity 73/100

As mentioned, there is a sense of unfinished business here. Also, the strongest work on the album is firmly rooted in genres that have been around for a long time. That said, Deuce is an immensely talented songwriter who will likely continue growing with every release.

Lyrics: 79/100

  • Originality 81/100
  • Concepts 79/100
  • Versatility 77/100

By far, the strongest point of this album is Deuce’s frenetic lyrical imagination. He leaps between concepts at light speed, juxtaposing disparate images in a way that most could not. Still, almost everything seems to fit together quite naturally and is highly nuanced.

Vocal Performance: 65/100

  • Pitch 65/100
  • Enunciation 75/100
  • Harmony 60/100
  • Mixing 60/100
  • Rhythm 75/100
  • Tone 65/100

In some of these categories, Deuce is much more advanced than in others, at least when it comes to this record. His rhythm is extremely consistent and impressive; it’s clear that he spends a lot of time practicing his craft. Sung melodies, even strong ones, seem like they could be improved upon. Even a light touch with vocal effects could bring some welcome diversity to the sounds here, and some of these songs may even benefit from some heavy, trippy vocal production.

Production: 69/100

  • Beats 73/100
  • Layering 65/100 
  • Mixing 65/100
  • Ambiance 73/100
  • Sound Quality: 70/100 

Deuce refers to making his own beats. It is unclear whether or not this is all his own work, but these selections are almost uniformly excellent. The timelessness of the boom-bap beats is undeniable, and the more experimental work also shows a lot of creative upsides. “You The One” sticks out as a somewhat puzzling outlier, but “Tie Me Down” makes up for this and then some. If some of these beats come from an outside source, it’s clear that the chemistry between the artist and whoever else might be on his production team is promising. Points must be withheld for some of the vocal mixes, but this is not to take anything away from the artistry of what is currently present.


Total Score: 7.0/10

  • Songwriting: 68/100
  • Lyrics: 79/100
  • Vocal Performance: 65/100
  • Production: 69/100


Get the latest tracks from Deuce at Soundcloud and later ish on Spotify.

Chris Ryan
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Chris Ryan is a musician and educator from Philadelphia, PA, an avid archivist of folk and country music, a disciple of Aphex Twin and a fervent supporter of Atlanta trap music. Chris can usually be found tracking keyboards, vocals and lap steel for the upcoming debut of his band The Cobwebs, or in FL Studio working on the next generation of trap sounds. He is conversant with, and writes about, hundreds of genres of music from all over the world.

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