Establishing herself in both the New York drill scene and among the top tier of Hip Hop’s mainstream talent, Lola Brooke delivers an autobiographical debut that strikes a balance between her raw sensuality and street grit. Dennis Daughter is a tribute to the principles her late father instilled in her at a young age, and the story of how those principles guided her to the success she enjoys today.
The 29-year-old rapper sounds similar in tone to her New York foremothers Foxy Brown and Lil Kim. But her theatrical, drill delivery is intentionally reminiscent of another of her idols, the late Pop Smoke. In terms of content, Brooke is also a bit of a mashup of those two influences by devoting nearly as much time to flaunting her beauty and sexual prowess as she does depicting dark and violent imagery inspired by life before her come up.
The viral popularity of “Don’t Play With It” in 2021 hinted at the Brooklyn rapper’s commercial potential. And Lola Brooke ups the ante on Dennis Daughter by remixing the track. In place of fellow New Yorker Billy B, the updated track includes two members of the genre’s upper echelon: Atlanta’s self-proclaimed first lady Latto and City Girl Yung Miami. The verses are enough to freshen up a song that remains buoyed by Brooke’s raunchy hook.
It’s not the last moment of Dennis Daughter that unabashedly appeals to Brooke’s new mainstream audience and the corresponding label resources at her disposal. She’s joined by fellow rising star Coi Leray and R&B singer songwriter Nija on the menacing New Jersey club banger “Don’t Get Me Started.” And she successfully reworks the Sarah Vaughan classic “Whatever Lola Wants” as the foundation for drill anthem “I AM LOLA.” She also recruits Bryson Tiller for an appropriate rework of Foxy Brown’s “Get Me Home” that includes just the right mix of new school and nostalgia. Although she sounds like Brown, she doesn’t imitate her flow, which proves she can embrace her influences without becoming overly reliant on them.
The confidence and club bangers belie the MC’s considerable lyrical instincts, which are on display as she reflects on her struggle to leave poverty in opener “Intro (2023 Flow)” and the turbulent streets she came up in (“Vacant Heart”). But one issue with Dennis Daughter is it alternates between those party moments and instances of deep introspection without a clear concept to frame it. While it includes an admirable level of vulnerability for a young artist, it also feels like Dennis Daughter lacks detail that would make it truly stand out. It feels like Brooke has even more to share that she’s still holding back.
New York drill is notorious for losing the plot in the full-length format. And delivering a successful debut LP after being designated an up-and-comer is no easy feat. A combination of artistic choices and sheer force of personality help Lola Brooke overcome those common pitfalls. In her debut LP, the New York rising star lays out her origin story, reckons with complicated family history, and flirts with the trappings of her newfound stardom – all the while staying true to family, the drill subgenre, and the musical influences that guide her.