A new rap concept album inspired by Dungeons & Dragons is on the way, and it’s shaping up to be far better than you might first assume from that description.
The Bard Chronicles comes from Dizzy ‘Dizzy the Bard’ Roseblade, who has more than two decades of experience in the fantasy tabletop RPG as a player and DM.
“I see D&D as a really big, really important part of my life,” Roseblade writes on the Kickstarter campaign page. “I grew up black and "gifted" in an area where there weren't a lot of other people like me. We'll go with "a lot of the other kids' parents didn't like me and I didn't know why" - you get it. In any case, I ended up falling in love with reading and eventually writing, and drawing, and making music, and an awful lot of other forms of art.
“What united all the things I love was the idea of other worlds. Adventures, fantasy, magic, you know the deal. I LOVED sitting down and jumping into another reality for a while, so when I eventually found D&D you can imagine how hard I fell into that. And now, almost twenty years later, I'm still playing and still DM-ing and I'm more obsessed with storytelling than ever before.”
Roseblade said they decided to combine a lifelong love of D&D’s storytelling and world-building with a passion for hip-hop and their burgeoning experience as a rapper and music artist. It seemed a natural fit.
“Rap was something I was good at, and it made me want to do it more, do it bigger and better - the whole genre is essentially a competition, any given rapper is trying to show off and be better than the rest, so finding that I COULD be good at it made me WANT to be good at it,” Roseblade said. “And eventually, that path of improvement leads you to looking for ways to be different, explore techniques and rhymes and subject matters no one else has.”
The result is an 11-track album built around the concept of an adventuring party in the world of D&D as they start out as first-level characters and “feel like level 20 badasses by the end”.
Roseblade acknowledges upfront that a Dungeons & Dragons rap concept album has the potential to come across as a bit gimmicky, admitting the idea first started as a “silly practice thing”, but it’s clear that the rapper is now taking the project seriously - and it shows.
Dicebreaker was able to preview an unfinished extract of one of the songs on the album, Die by the Sword. The verse we heard told a tale of stolen swords and ambushes by highway thieves, backed by thumping drums and fuzzy synths. The production is slick - Roseblade is producing the beats for some tracks, while others will be collaborations - and the rhymes clever. (“Then they prepared to attack my crew, it was a consortium”/“They didn’t know what was about to come for ‘em” is one such highlight.) There are explicit mentions of orcs, crossbow and sword-wielding highway robbers, and other fantasy touches that mark it out as clearly set in the world of D&D, but without falling into a cliched checklist of fantasy tropes or shallow nods to the game.
You can get a taste of Roseblade’s impressive skills and dispel your own cynicism on the Bard Chronicles Kickstarter page, which features a Kickstarter promo video that is - what else - a rap.
“My rules are modified, my bars are optimised/I’m hotter than any other artist on your Spotify,” Roseblade spits.
Roseblade has plans to release the album in digital and physical CD formats with two music videos - one of which will be live-action, while the other will be animated. The Kickstarter campaign also offers custom Dungeons & Dragons 5E character sheets for the characters mentioned in the album, as well as a digital art book.
If its Kickstarter campaign reaches its relatively modest target of $3,200 by July 1st, The Bard Chronicles is due for release this October.