Song You Need: DaBoii and Drakeo The Ruler display bittersweet chemistry on “The Deal”

The FADER’s “Songs You Need” are the tracks we can’t stop playing. Check back every day for new music and follow along on our Spotify playlist.

The tragedy of Drakeo The Ruler‘s murder last December is still fresh, and revisiting his old material tears the scab open anew. Before his passing, the 26-year-old was angling for a breakout moment with tracks featuring pop-rappers like Drake (“Talk To Me”) and 24kGoldn (“Spaceship.”) The latter track is an especially intriguing listen for how Drakeo refuses to compromise his low-lidded, threatening mumble for the song’s sunny vibe. You get a sense of how unlikely Drakeo’s jump to the pop charts would have been, but if anyone could have made it happen without selling his soul, it would have been Drakeo.

Tracks like “The Deal” with Vallejo rapper DaBoii are the kind that got Drakeo noticed. Both rappers have no time for words spoken without action and aim to deflate puffed-out chests with their presence as much as their lyrics. DaBoii isn’t the pedal-to-the-metal presence he was in his group SOB X RBE, but the maturity in his menace suits him, especially when he ends the hook with a dismissive “I don’t gotta say too much, them n— know the deal.” Drakeo compliments the energy perfectly, as hungry as you’ve ever heard him and barely stopping for a breath as he delivers bars that alternate between menacing, poetic, and hilarious (“I’m a demon, I’m a problem / Mr. T could be my cousin” is a personal favorite.) By its end, “The Deal” is a tragic reminder of a talent cut short and an opportunity to appreciate the fact that we got to experience it at all.