After the cryptic surprise drop of QALF, Damso might have more to show us.
With 12 tracks dominating Spotify’s France Top 50 playlist, Damso’s latest album QALF became Spotify France’s best drop of the year. The album reached over 11 million streams a day after its release on Friday, Sept. 18.
Since Damso’s last studio album Lithopédion dropped in 2018, the 28-year-old artist kept a low profile on social media, removing all of his photos on Instagram, until the drop of QALF.
News about the Belgian-Congolese rapper working on this latest project has been going around since October of last year. But a tweet he posted in 2015 in which he uses the term “QALF” shows that the project might have been in the making for over five years.
According to an interview with the Belgian hip hop YouTube channel Tarmac, the title stands for “Qui Aime Like Follow” (Who Loves Like Follow). Fans are speculating that the tracks released on Sept. 18 are only the first part of a possible double record due to the last track being titled “INTRO.”
Some fans, including Belgian rapper Kobo, are also questioning why there are two album covers surfacing the web showing two different durations. The original album being 45:05 and another almost identical cover with three minutes added to the original 45.
A fifteenth track is another possible reason for the added three minutes in the second cover. A Twitter fan posted a screenshot of Damso’s QALF playlist that reveals an unlisted song titled “Jade.”
Although highly-anticipated, QALF‘s sudden release was announced in an Instagram post, leaving his 1.8 million followers pleasantly surprised. The post simply captioned, “Bonne Écoute” (Good Listening) with the Vulcan Salute emoji. Listeners who stuck around since Batterie faible would recognize the emoji as the rapper’s signature #Vie hand sign.
Damso fans will also recognize some of Belgium’s biggest artists featured in the new album such as rapper Hamza and singer Lous and the Yakuza, who is also originally from the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
His collaboration with Fally Ipupa, one of the most popular rumba singers in his home country, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, is arguably the most exciting collaboration on the whole album. “FAIS ÇA BIEN” combines both Fally Ipupa’s Lingala singing with Damso’s rap over rumba music that shifts to a more trap beat early in the song.
Fans get to also hear the rapper’s son Lior speak for the first time in “DEUX TOILES DE MER.” The title is a reference to a voicemail Lior left his father, where he stumbles saying “des étoiles de mer” (starfishes) while talking about the different sea animals he saw.
After Lior’s heartwarming voicemail, the song transitions into a delicate piano piece where Damso sings about how much he misses his son and how he is no longer with the mother. The close bond between Damso and his son is well-known among fans, as the rapper occasionally featured the toddler in his Instagram stories.
Between QALF and his 2018 album Lithopédion, Damso continued to regularly feature on French rapper Kalash’s hits and held a concert in Laval on May 10, 2019. The scale of his fanbase in Quebec was underestimated when fans urged him to move the concert from MTELUS to Place Bell due to high demand.
But the success QALF received within the first week of its release showed that despite the couple of years he spent staying out of the public eye, fans who love him are ready to like and follow.