Welcome to Success: Paranoid Castle explore the side effects of excess on third album

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Kirby Dominant and Factor still sound jubilant on introspective third LP

It’s been three years since Paranoid Castle, the collaboration between Oakland emcee Kirby Dominant and Saskatoon producer Factor, released Champagne Nightmares, an album that hinted that there might be a downside to the upside. Amidst party vibes and jubilant beats there was a layer of introspection that wondered if the good times might be running out, that the roadtrip ride in the California convertible would eventually end.

And on Welcome to Success, the duo’s third album since they first began writing together 13 years ago, Paranoid Castle still brings the party. From the opening ominous beats, in-between harsh rhymes and the smooth crooned choruses and vocal hooks, Kirby Dominant sounds as on point as ever. But this time around the party is tempered with a little more restraint.

“Yes I’m hungover, my liver don’t fight the same, so I feel the pain, I guess I’m getting older,” raps Dominant on “I Know I Know”.

Me too, man.

With the entire album released via advance stream on Exclaim, Welcome to Success might be a sweet destination for some, but it’s all about the side effects of achievement and excess and the withdrawals from that, says Dominant.

“With Champaign Nightmares I just came off a bad trip or episode in my life, and I survived so I was happy about that,” says Dominant, who is currently living in Detroit. “It was a celebration of getting over grief. But this album caught me on more of a downturn of that celebration.

“It’s not a rock bottom situation but there was some sort of transition or a jetlag from flying so high,” he continues. “I still think there are upbeat songs on the album. I think it will all work but it just might take you there differently.”

Having released their debut collaboration One Way Ticket on Side Road Records in 2004, Paranoid Castle’s latest LP, launched via the Fake Four label, is still far from a downer. Crunchy guitar-n-bass instrumentation gives a nice thickness to the tracks, while the beats remain dynamic and driving. But it’s not until “Wait For Me”, one of the banger songs of the album, when the duo finally starts to cut loose with a dance vibe.

“It wasn’t really planned but I wanted to make it so that it was something relatable to someone else,” says Dominant. “And the individual songs were about individual issues that I was dealing with during the time I was making the album. And I don’t feel that way anymore, I’m over it.”

But while they are just about to celebrate the release of Welcome to Success, Dominant says there aren’t any immediate plans to uncork the champagne bottles on stage. Still, fans can likely expect some action within the next few months, says the emcee.

“We aren’t too sure but I really love performing [in Saskatoon] on New Years,” says Dominant. “We’ve done it twice and I hope we haven’t wore out our welcome to do that again. If there were a chance to come earlier I’d love to do it.”