What stands out on Da Vinci’s Inquest is Wolf Castle’s sincerity, skill, and undisputed sense of self.
It’s not often that an artist commits to a character over a series of releases the way that Wolf Castle has with his “vicious, ambitious” alter-ego, Da Vinci. Over the course of four EPs, starting with 2019’s N3XT LIF3 and culminating in the recently released Da Vinci’s Inquest, Da Vinci’s influence over Wolf Castle (aka Mi’kmaq rapper/singer/producer Tristan Grant) has led the performer down dangerous corridors and through dark nights of the soul, exploring obsessions with fame, fortune, and fanfare. Da Vinci’s Inquest finally vanquishes Wolf Castle’s villain once and for all. Over the EP’s seven tracks, our hero emerges on top, ready to take on the world.
“Late to the party, I thought I’d be here sooner,” he raps on opener “Get Lit,” a better-late-than-never banger that bristles with bravado that’s earned and fully embraced. There’s an authentic old-school vibe to the infectious “Summertime Crush,” a doe-eyed song about falling in love bubbling over with fresh infatuation (“Just another step in the right direction, / Lethal at a glance its a love injection,”). Things get more serious with “Welfman.” Flipping the script and reclaiming the put-down and slur hurled at him in his youth, Wolf Castle owns the bigots who put him down and tried to hold him there. “Every native gotta play man,” he spits, showcasing inventive wordplay and spot-on flow, “Learn the rules just to break it, Wilding out you can’t tame it.”
Calling in the whole crew (Shift from tha 902, Raphael de la Rez, Flacko Finesse, and Talon the Rez Kid Wonder) for closer “Top Dog,” Wolf Castle’s coming-of-age tale culminates in a celebration of Indigenous excellence, resiliency over systemic social barriers and colonialism, and earning the respect and recognition of peers, family, and oneself. Much of Da Vinci’s Inquest sounds like it’s ready to take on the world — wicked production, inventive wordplay and groove-ready beats — but what truly stands out is not Wolf Castle’s boasting and braggadocio, but his sincerity, skill, and undisputed sense of self.