With his debut album as OVO Sound’s youngest signee, Roy Wood$ was sure to feel the pressure on this effort, but somehow Waking at Dawn misses the mark. Unlike his fellow label mates, Wood$ album lacks a feature from the head honcho Drake, and is missing any production from the Noah ‘40’ Shebib. Regardless Roy Wood$ dreamy, melancholic sounds just aren’t fulfilling. A sound that the masses are familiar with thanks to new artists like Majid Jordan or Bryson Tiller, Roy Wood$ fails to find his own place is a landscape made popular by artists like Drake and The Weeknd.
Roy Wood$ whose real name is Denzel Spencer, has opted to fit the mold of his label mates and fellow brooders as opposed to pushing it forward. Not all is bad though, Spencer’s flow and melodies are infectious. On the album’s lead single which debuted on OVO Sound Apple Radio show ‘Gwan Big Up Urself’, he croons in a patois accent of sorts, all while the production is a cool, smooth, and island inspired. The album clocks in at just about 35 minutes and there isn’t anything that stands out in particular, the album just seems, well, sleepy.
The biggest downfall is the songwriting. Spencer’s lyrics can sometimes come off as just vague or generic. On the opening track he sings “I could pop another pill tonight, even though I don’t want one” and on another “Can I speak some Spanish, Te amo my darling babe”. The album is consistent in one sense though, it stays true to the ambient production and aesthetic that the OVO Sound and other affiliated artists are known for. The only problem is that it doesn’t hit like his forebears do. His melodies may be catchy and inspired by today’s biggest Hip-Hop acts, but it isn’t enough to warrant more than an initial listen through. Spencer isn’t without talent, it seems he may just be lacking in inspiration.