“Guest List” – DENA

4 stars (out of 5)

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Opening to double handclaps, a spare hip-hop beat and a middle- eastern twang, Bulgarian born Denitza Torodrove, aka DENA’s, third single “Guest List” brings to mind MIA when she was fresh out of art school on her 2003 debut “Galang”. Also sharing the Grammy nominee’s anarchic political stance, DENA twists ‘everyone’s trying to get their name on the guest list’ to a double meaning; her music will be played in clubs where status can be everything but she is also directly referring to her native country’s immigration policies. Unlike MIA, DENA’s delivery is more relaxed and measured, eccentric swoops in her vocal delivery maybe but she’s no kooky novelty MC either.

The track builds from its initial bare bones and features some lovely vibes and jagged, buzzing synth shards as it finds its alt-hip-hop rap feet. It is somewhat crude sounding and doesn’t come with the sonic bells and whistles we’ve come to expect with some American artists’ early releases, such is the level of sophistication coming through, but this is welcome in an overly producer-dominated genre.

DENA is a rare find indeed. Female Bulgarian rap artists aren’t dominating anywhere at present and she has enough cultural blends and savvy not to alienate a more far reaching audience ( her work is so far performed in English) with a clear understanding of how to captivate just the kind of audience who will embrace her (hipster alert!). Her debut album is out next year and my ears are ready and waiting.