As I write this, this EP is not even 30 minutes old but it may be one of the hot hip-hop albums to have this spring. It’s a new collaborative project between Reef The Lost Cauze and Haj of Dumhi, and Sirens On Snyder is what has come to fruition after their initial collaboration five years ago. This EP also features guest spots from Ether Cee, Side Effect, Random, and Burke the Jurke, a bit of Philadelphia representation and then some. You may now stream and listen and if you’re into it, consider making a purchase.
New music from Us Natives? Indeed it is, and this one is called Used Vinyl Review II, with production assistance from Haj/Raj of Dumhi, Meks Uno and Just Plain Ant. John E. Cab mixed and mastered this one for Us Natives, and at 12 tracks, there’s no shortage on finding something here, from Philadelphia to you. (The first installment of Used Vinyl Review was my Bandcamp Suggestion on April 29th of this year.)
Representing Philadelphia are Reef The Lost Cauze and Haj/Raj of Dumhi and if you’ve kept up with them, they have been quite busy in the last few years. Things have been clicking once they did a track together, and one has lead to more. This is that more, a track in honor of Philadelphia Eagles safety Brian Dawkins called “B. Dawk”. On top of various mixes of the song, you also get “Thought Control”, which nicely weaves “The Happiess Days Of Our Lives” and “Another Brick In The Wall (Part II)” into the mix. Is there a better word than hotness? I dare you to find it and when you do, apply it to “Thought Control”.
The Dumhi movement continues with a brand new single featuring two tracks for your listening pleasures. “The Scene (You Don’t Know” has Haj scooping up Random (a/k/a Megaran), Open Mike Eagle, Burke The Jurke, and Doodlebug (a/k/a Cee Knowledge) of Digable Planets.
It could easily end there but no, you also have “Sacred Papercuts” where Rich Quick, Nico The Beast, and Scanz each add something to the stew. Grab a spoon and have a taste. Can’t? No excuses, it’s free for the time being.
The video begins with the symbol for “om”, but in order to get to om, you have to accept “calm” and that means breaking down a few obstacles (both mental and physical), which is what you’ll see throughout this video.
Almost two months to the day, I reviewed a new EP by Ethel Cee and Dumhi called Seven-Thirty, and it made me want to see or hear more. For me though, I love it when an artist is able to make their album, EP, or single come to life, something that was quite common in the 80′s and 90′s but has become a bit of a lost art. That has been revived in the video for “One Fifty”, called this because the song itself is one minute and fifty seconds.
I’m waiting for a forty-five/twenty.
Seven Thirty is an EP showing how female MC’s should be doing it, but at this point in hip-hop’s recorded history, some might feel it’s difficult to separate the differences between male and females. No reason. Ladies have been tearing it up on the mic for years, but in the last 12 years, it seems if you are a woman, you have to struggle 20 times as hard to be heard, leaving many to fade away. For me, that’s even more of a reason to take a serious listen, as she has the kind of power that made Queen Mother Rage and Isis/Linque once shared with the world. You may hear others, but I could easier hear Ethel Cee do tracks with Amplify Dot, RoxXxan, Eternia, Rakaa, Prie, Wizdom, or Black Thought.
On the musical side, Haj continues to create tracks not only for the singular, but also for a broader scope, and I like that. In other words, while he is producing individual tracks, when you hear it as part of a full project, I sense a bit of continuity, or at least an effort to make a series of songs connect. That may happen by adding sound effects to tie them in together so that it becomes a cinematic feast for the years, and listeners will be able to hear/see/envision the broader picture of what is Seven Thirty.
Even if it was made to be a simple EP of songs, there’s some sense of structure that shows me not only do Ethel Cee and Dumhi know what they’re doing, but they can also play sound games if need be. Participate by listening and have fun.
About six months ago, Dumhi came out with an EP called The Whole World’s Watching and I’ll be honest, I had listened to it quite a bit in the car but forgot to review it. That’s not the norm, but a part of me wants to say that because I liked the music so much, I tend to enjoy the music and put away the journalist hat without realizing. It’s called being comfortable.
Six months later, a brand new EP in the form of Side Effect, and it features an MC who goes by the name of Side Effect as well, so technically this is a showcase for him, it’s “his” EP as much as it is Dumhi’s. If you like the Dumhi vibe, you’ll enjoy what Side Effect is about as he’s someone who knows how to write, knows how to rhyme, and does so without shame. A lot of words have been used to describe quality rappers, everyone from ruthless to dope, razor-sharp to awesome, but Side Effect is just… good. I don’t mean good as in “eh”, but I mean to use a simple word to show that when you go back to the basics, you don’t need massive tattoos or no teeth to prove that you have talent (or use those costumes to hide the fact that you don’t).
Nonetheless, the EP is up and is my current Bandcamp Suggestion. Click the player and listen to the EP, and you can also buy a track or the EP in full if you wish.
Dumhi remains one of my favorite hip-hop groups out there, but then it became known that the group was not only a functioning collective, but a project from the mind of Rajan Jugran. In other words, Dumhi can be a two-headed beast at any given time, and one of those heads may branch out to reveal three, four, or twelve more heads atr any given time. It’s my of saying that when it remains to be a group vibe, Dumhi is a unit of people. When it wants to be a means of musical exploration from one man, Dumhi is one man.
First off, I want to apologize to Dumhi as a whole for the delay in this review. The album arrived at a time when a number of other albums were coming in, to the point where I felt I was being bombarded with new music. Yes, I realize you guys are saying “Book, we’re fucking Dumhi, you’re our boy, put us on the top of your listening pile and make us a priority.” I know, and again I apologize. But now that I’m listening to the music, looking at brick buildings and barbed water, and hearing how they are a perfect fit, and I now regret delaying my Dumhi intake.
The Jungle (self-released) looks like a serious album, you don’t place a photo like that on the cover to make people think “oh, this is a happy album”. The tone is somber and dark, perhaps just like the times we live in. While not a concept album, there is a running theme, that of how life and the surroundings we live in feel more like a jungle, and the jungle seems to be getting bigger and more wide spread. Has that jungle always existed? Were the schoolyard jungle gyms a microcosm of what we were going to grow into, or just a middle finger from our parents as a message which reads “ha ha, you on your own now, son”?
With the help of such MC’s as Elucid, Random, Reef The Lost Cauze, Burke The Jurke, Jermiside, and Che Grand among others, they tell a story that may sound different from afar, but they connect in the way they all talk about the struggle to live, breathe, and comprehend in the early 21st century. When Raj/Haj slips in an instrumental interlude, it feels like incidental music from a 70′s film, and maybe that’s the point: to show that some of the things being explored in movies we watched during our youth is now our reality, and the connection to those old stories remains. Maybe we can find solutions in those old stories by telling the current stories, and thus Dumhi continue to be storytellers for today and the generations to come. The Jungle is perhaps what we want it to be, what we deny, but it also allows us to figure out why the jungle exists, or does it exists? Just like racial slurs and living conditions, can people break out of the jungle in order to find something better, or is it always about a vicious game of survival in a concrete jungle? Or are the oppressors in it for the game to watch animals prey on each other? While The Jungle doesn’t get heavy in a political context, it does touch upon it socially, to put up a mirror for us to not only see what we don’t want to see, but hopefully to reflect back at those who don’t think those conditions exist. Perhaps it means reconditioning mentalities, or reconditioning those who do not feel those conditions can or should change.
Perhaps it is deep after all. To be continued…