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Fresh Da Zoe’s “Demon”

Comprised primarily of some electrified lyricism, delicate bass, a profoundly crisp beat, and sharpshooter vocals that have our attention from the start, Fresh Da Zoe’s “Demon” might be the most fanciful indie hip-hop song I’ve heard in 2023. It isn’t featuring any grandiose fat on its bassline, nor does it have a sizzling lead guitar part that puts it into the metallic, stadium-shaking territory. For the better part of its running time, “Demon” puts forth a simple concept for hip-hop melodicism, and in my opinion, this is exactly what makes it such a smart single and a brilliant addition to Zoe’s discography.

As a songwriter, this superbly gifted player has been steadily developing his style since dropping a few interesting tracks in the last couple of years, and in this most recent look I think we get the best and most full-bodied peek into his artistry we’ve been afforded so far. He’s not afraid to be vulnerable with the audience, and no matter what you thought about his style before giving this song a listen, I believe you’re going to walk away from its beat feeling a little more intrigued by his sound than you were.  

Beyond the vocal, the backdrop in “Demon” is the source of the warmest elements in the chills factor here, and I don’t think there’s any understating of just how important the bassline’s melodic depth is to the interpretation of the lyrics here. Having an organic instrumental backbone is essentially what makes all-time hits iconic, and in this song, Fresh Da Zoe is going out of his way to employ the natural hue of rhythm and rhyme without bringing anything synthetic into the mix.

“Demon” is a very lyrically inspired track, but the tone through which it’s delivered to us by Zoe himself is what truly defines the narrative of the song. He’s making it impossible for us to avoid the emotional haymakers he’s throwing in our direction via the groove, and whether it’s the poetry or the pulsation of the percussion, you’re going to feel something by the time this track has crossed over the finish line.  

Hip-hop fans who are in need of a fresh fix from a verifiably indie songwriter would be wise to see what Fresh Da Zoe is doing in “Demon” this spring, if for no other reason than to understand why the growing hype surrounding his professional work is only getting bigger by the year. 2023 has seen Zoe’s scene releasing more music than it ever has before – and if my gut is right, I’d say he’s prepping for a proper LP to drop a lot sooner than later.

He’s got my endorsement, and it’s because of his putting tonality before production varnish (which is something that I wish I could say about some of his major label-backed peers in and around the American underground at the moment). There aren’t many puritans like him left, but that’s exactly why his sound is as appealing as it is this season leaking into the rest of 2023. 

Mindy McCall



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