Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Dabrye does what Prefuse couldn't do: makes a good record with other people on it

Dabrye is a hip-hop producer with a classical sensibility. He likes symmetry in his rhythms and melodies; his tracks are clean, minimalist, sometimes jazz- or even lounge-influenced and sometimes synthetic like he's Timbaland's nerdier cousin. His new record Two/Three is the first time he's worked with vocalists on a full-length and it does everything that a rap-producer-record ought to do: features known and unknown MCs; peppers instrumental tracks among the vocal ones; is sonically varied but not scattered or indulgent. It is real fucking strong basically, and if it's not exactly wall-to-wall summer jamz, it sure doesn't sound like musically staid backpack-rap, either.

Every song on Two/Three has at least one great tone in its beat, a keyboard trill or electroclash analogs, the aquatic sounds of "Bloop" or the long cello sample ridden by MF Doom on "Air." Most of the MCs are underground-inclined (Doom, Wildchild, the late great Jay Dee) but also charismatic enough that their verses don't devolve into technically obsessed wanking.

It ain't all hot, of course: Beans manages to ruin "Nite Eats Days," and while there are some real discoveries among the unknown MCs (Finale and the Jewish female MC Invincible both count as finds, are both from Detroit and are featured together on two tracks) some are just not that good.

In other incarnations Dabrye is Tadd Mullinix, and he's also released techno records as James Cotton. He is a composer, but ultimately what makes Two/Three work is that he's not an auteur: he is capable of meeting his MCs halfway, molding tracks around them, making songs and not just twiddling knobs.

Download "Viewer Discretion (feat. Invincible and Finale)" here.


Macky Olé said...

I think that I might want to buy this but I strongly fear Surrounded by Silence part deux. It's just that guys like Prefuse and Dabrye sound so unique and intriguing that MCs could only serve to take the attention (and subtlety) away from the track.

g33kgrrl said...

I'm excited about the idea of making you play records for me when I move.

I also love to hear about people's nerdier cousins.