Article by: Chuck Trash
Ten years ago, nobody could have predicted the immense impact that Chicago drill rap has had on hip-hop. Nearly every major city seems to have their own off-shoot of the 808-heavy and provocative subgenre. Unfortunately, many of the high profile names who pioneered the sound have either died or are currently serving life-altering long term jail sentences. This tragic cycle of artists in the scene parallels a neverending dark reality for so many lives from the city’s south and west sides, and Stony Island newcomer, 62TanaMoe, begins his story right in the middle of the drill timeline.
In 2015, Tana was halfway through a ten year jail sentence, and decided to pursue rapping when his TV stopped working. After six years of refining his craft, he was released in February 2021, and immediately began recording. Since then, he has dropped a handful of singles and music videos, with his defining moment arriving through his recent debut, Free Dallo: The Mixtape. Across 21 compelling tracks, Tana raps about a life entrenched on Chicago’s south side with a well-balanced combination of tough street grit and sharp metaphors.
62TanaMoe is a unique drill rapper because he incorporates so many styles into his music, and ties these different approaches together with his intricate and thoughtful wordplay. His vocal range is similar to Young Dolph, specifically in how he paces high energy flows with his more monotone raps. “Dis Strap” appears early in the record, and reverberates the force of a future Chicago street anthem. The most consistent theme across the record is survival, which echoes through lines on the song like “All my life I had to fight like Colin Kap before he kneeled/Chase the bag, no standing still, take care of the fam like Uncle Phil.” The conviction in Tana’s voice is reflective of someone that had very few options through low points in his life, but these setbacks also reinforce the authenticity of his experiences.
On several tracks, Tana’s talent for catchy hooks takes charge. He taps into fellow Blicka Gang Entertainment member, T-Nick, for “Out them Trenches.” The song revolves around a back and forth delivery between each rapper, with both bringing a different flow to their experiences on the corners of Stony Island. T-Nick pulls his lyrical weight just as strongly as Tana, and when the hook appears midway through the track, it blends into the verses as part of their give and take formula.
Although Tana briefly reveals hints of a sensitive side on “Back Then,” he is at his best on its polar opposite, “Playas Play.” The album highlight is a thematic combination of Jay-Z’s “Girls, Girls, Girls” and Ludacris’ “Area Codes.” Every line focuses on another woman that Tana has an ongoing relationship with, and many descriptions around these relationships relate back to Chicago gangbanging culture. It’s not the most thought provoking track on the record, but it shifts the attention on the record to another aspect of his versatile songwriting, and also lightens the mood of the surrounding tracks about his unpredictable daily life in Stony.
The topics that Tana brings to the table on Free Dallo are not necessarily new, but his well-timed delivery is more focused than many comparative rappers. Out of the countless artists across Chicago’s south and west side, very few of them rap with the same consistency, honesty and determination as TanaMoe. The Stony Island native has only been home for 7-8 months since his release from prison, and the 21 songs that he recorded in the time since for Free Dallo: The Mixtape prove how persistent his work ethic is. 62TanaMoe sets himself apart from his competition with a natural ability to shift between satirical wordplay and perilous stories from his past.