Despite struggling through the stifling grips of addiction combined with a gloomy mindset steeped in depression, Dylan Belanger—who performs under the cognomen "Tribulationz"—has reconciled into sobriety. In turn, his music garnishes a newly embellished positivity that broods over his introspections as he encourages his audience, who might be venturing down a turbulent beat, to keep looking up.
When it comes to the enigmatic Artist's sound, his sonic characteristic transverse the bordering genres of Hip-hop and Alternative, utilizing suggestive and fat acoustic instrumentations to influence the vibe of his New-age creations. Each new lesson throughout his tumultuous history has embellished him with a fresh perspective. And as he grows more robust as an individual, so does his music. This is especially apparent on his latest album, 'New Day,' where Dylan Belanger escapes his comfort zones over brief but fleeting moments on an infatuating record that leaves behind an indescribable after-glow.
"CRAZY!" opens up 'New Day' with a Gypse-inspired sonic backdrop. Here, Belanger utilizes warm saturated decaying horns—that sound like they're being played off a clandestine tape machine—and a bouncy measure that pays homage to the swing-dance formations of the roaring 1920s—with a modern Hip-hop garnish in the form of this Emcee's word flow. His spastic bars move in hyperdrive and draws reminiscence to artists like Watsky and Eminem through this record's playback. And "CRAZY!," is a fitting introduction to the joyride that "Tribulationz" foreshadows throughout his librettos on this cabaret festooned track.
We shift down on the next cut titled, "Eaglez," where Belanger takes a captivating hold over our attention-spans through the descriptive narrative he divulges in his notorious canter. He has a way of punctuating each syllable with a fervent rasp. Even playing with the measure as his words interweave and traverse over the smooth rumbling production below. Here, on the record's main head-bobbing track, Dylan Belanger spreads his arms out wide and embraces us with the uplifting mantra found in the chorus. It's a song that attempts to encapsulate the sensation you feel after coming out of life's most tribulating moments.
Swerving into left-field, we enter a fantasia of R&B focusing harmonics found throughout "Found My Path," which features soft-pressing Wurlitzer keys, a crooning bass-line, and twangy electric guitars that give this song its loungy-vibe. As each new track dissolves into the next, only one thing seems to render a sense of diversity: the instrumental productions that Belanger apportions his Emcee discharges over. There are no Contemporary machine-gun riffling hi-hats here, and definitely no earth-shattering 808s. But what is almost always constant is the persona he takes on under the Moniker, Tribulationz, where Belanger lights up the backdrops of each mix with an effervescent hue, thanks to his colorful verbiage and distinguishingly bouncy-bars.
"I'm Alive," and "New Day" operates as the mid-tempo burners on 'New Day.' Here, Tribulationz assembles his influential touchstones with a connoisseur's ear. He sounds like a new-formed man between the guitars, earthy drums, and a half-wavering tempo that diversifies the record's cohesiveness. It's clear Belanger is letting go of his past and embracing the newfound light on these two tracks. With a criminal mid-tempo hook and devout riffing sonics, the strangely affecting Sister-tracks sound like a Modern rendition of an F.M. radio single. Especially when Tribulationz adorns some of his New-Age Hip-hop texture and all it's attached magic over both song's hooks.
The last track, "Raining," plants woody rhizomes in the New-age incursion of his own meticulous designs. And as it persuades us over a Watsky-inspired flurry, the beat productions lay low. Here it's all about giving Tribulationz room to stretch and perform over his wordiness. His solid foundations show up now and again, especially on the sung hooks that usually feature our protagonist swooning with short bursts of melodic hymns. Though it anchors his music invitingly, it starts to present 'New Day' as a true account of his newfound personage and ethos: You can't appreciate the sun without a little rain.
There is no kitsch here, just lively, adroit Emcee verbiage, amongst a plethora of well-fitting and divergent New-age Hip-hop productions.
How did you go about curating this record's flow, especially regarding how one song's narrative transitions into the next?
Originally these songs were going to be a part of a larger album. A few months ago I upgraded my studio equipment and started working with a new mixing engineer so these tracks were not up to par with the quality that I am putting out now. I've been working on another full-length album for a few months now and these tracks kind of got left in the dust after the transition, so I figured I would lump them together to make this EP.
Which song from this record stands out as the most robust representation of the new persona and ethos you've adopted after struggling with addiction and depression?
Definitely the title track "New Day" for the most part, although "I'm alive!" I created last year when I got booked to play at Canada's largest recovery festival, I really wanted a song that people in recovery could shout out loud, the energy that thousands of recovering addicts share when they get together is quite exhilarating. Eaglez is also about recovery, in the sense that I felt like a lonesome bird perched on top of a desolate nest before I found the recovery community. I felt so alone and different and couldn't relate to many people, then low and behold I moved to Vancouver and met all these other people who thought the same way, and I found my flock.
How long did this record take to write and record? And what did you learn about yourself as an artist throughout its production process?
It's hard to say how long it took because I wasn't consciously working on this EP I was just making music with the intent of putting it all together as a bigger album down the road. This was the pivoting point in my career, all my new unreleased music actually has the sound and authenticity that I have been working towards that I didn't quite achieve on this project. I was still very fresh in recovery when I wrote alot of this project and still not quite sure which direction I wanted to go with the music. I was very hesitant to even put it out because of that. On all my new music I have dialed in my recording techniques and working with the engineer who mixes and masters all of rapper Tom Macdonald's music, It very exciting now that I have a solid system to release quality music.
How do you keep yourself inspired when some of the familiar negative sentiments of the past creep their way back into your mindset (if at all)?
I have found Yoga and eating healthy to really keep me focused, although I rap alot about how great life is, I am far from having everything figured out. There are months where I don't write at all and have to take a step back to focus on my health, life is still quite the rollercoaster, its like a rollercoaster through a tropical island, its got its ups and downs but it's still much more pleasant than the ride in addiction.
What has been keeping you inspired in 2020?
I've had a hard time being inspired this year, I found before that playing shows and connecting with other artists helped my creative juices flow. I haven't written anything in a few months but I'm finally just getting back to myself again and ready to go full tilt on my next project "Lay Low and Stitch."