Maintain Da DON: “Black Boi” ft. JT – artistic and cultural significance

Maintain Da DON is a songwriter and producer from Mississippi, and 1/7 of the supergroup of songwriters I C.H.O.K.E. The group released 2 albums that would gain regional notoriety and countless freestyle mixtapes between the years ’99-2002. Maintain released his solo album “Da Wake Up”(2003), and then eventually moved to Atlanta and began working with fellow group member/songwriter Yung Kut (Kutta Korleone). Throughout the next years Maintain and Yung Kut would drop a number of mixtapes. By 2008, Maintain had been traveling across the US and Europe, producing and songwriting.  He moved to El Paso where he received a degree in Business Management. In 2012, Maintain announced that he would be releasing his 2nd solo project entitled “The Chronicles of Charles Sparkley EP”. Next on his traveling schedule was Austin, TX. Again a number of EP’s and mixtapes followed, which continued to increase his underground buzz. Maintain Da DON then worked on his latest project, the “28 Grams Later” album, which was dropped at the beginning of 2018. The album contained the internationally acclaimed single, “Black Boi” ft. JT.

Maintain Da DON and JT Norman

Maintain Da DON is one of those artists noticed, not just for his talents, but for what he was born with. In this case, Maintain has a baritone voice that sounds absolutely, for a lack of better word, authoritative. His voice is perfectly fit for the unique music that he comes up with, and that is what makes “28 Grams Later” more than just your average rap album. A whole lot more than that.

It’s worth more than a lot of platinum rap albums in pure entertainment value. “28 Grams Later” is far from being as formulaic as many mainstream rap releases are.  Roping together a plethora of stunning samples, Maintain Da DON deals out bombastic street anthems, soulful ballads, feel-good tracks, and autobiographical snapshots meant to enlighten.

The thing is, on this album, the highlights hit much harder than usual stuff. These come in the shape of the back to back stunners, “Black Boi” ft. JT and “Saving Grace” ft. JT & Jaleasia. What separates Maintain Da DON from his peers and contemporaries, on these cuts, is his voice and flow.

Maintain is able to command an audience, with his thick, tumescent rap drawl that sounds like it was meant to hand down Supreme Court decisions. It is both beautiful and ominous at times.

The album artwork

The trick is matching Maintain’s voice and Southern background, with the shimmer and soulful urban gloss of the beats. Which is what happens with artistic significance on the slow burning beat of “Black Boi” ft. JT.

It helps too that this track has just as much substance as it has style. Because of the wide array of contributors to ensure the album meets the emotional quotas, Maintain Da DON has set forth for it, every song possesses a distinctive identity, a different tone fleshed out by its instrumentation and features.

And the lyrical wonders Maintain works on top of all this is even more worthy of praise. On “Black Boi” ft. JT, he is aiming to make the voices of the oppressed louder, as he emphasizes how blackness holds a narrative of its own, one that goes beyond just being a different color.

A narrative that through history speaks of perseverance through countless adversities. These lyrics shows how the oppressing events of one’s life can weigh one down and warp the mentality. This song is particularly aimed at enlightening and empowering the youth.

With great production and a commendable feature, “Black Boi” ft. JT is definitely more than worth a listen. Its soulful sound and storytelling, provides Maintain Da DON an opportunity to shine. He shows that with maximum effort, a conscience and mastery, quality hip-hop music can still be released in 2018.


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