February 13, 2003

Test Spin: Themselves

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In the tiny, relatively unexplored realm of abstract hip-hop, Dose One is king. The Anticon MC has already made a name for himself by rapping on cLOUDDEAD’s landmark debut and collaborating with equally eccentric beat-maker Boom Bip, but Themselves may just be his finest moment yet. The No Music is a dense, chaotic mix of junkyard beats and found sound, with Dose’s lyrical absurdity tromping wildly all over it. Producer Jel lays down the kind of off-kilter beats Anticon fans have come to expect — constructed from sonic detritus and infused with the crackle and hiss of a lo-fi junkie.

Jel’s beats and samples on tracks like “Good People Check” and “Dark Sky Demo” have a riotous old-skool flavor; the rag-tag, quirky mix of sampled horn blurts and careening drums nod to the early innovators, while crafting a uniquely new style. Dose matches his producer’s brilliance with some of his best lyrics yet. His flow is, uh, unconventional, to say the least: he rhymes and free-verses bizarre, stream-of-consciousness rants about the sorry state of hip-hop, God and the Devil, and masturbation. His lyrics form the centerpiece of the spectacular closer “Hat in the Wind,” which encapsulates all of the album’s many genres and tendencies in one track. When an overdubbed chorus joyously proclaims, “I am a drug addict,” only to suddenly drop off into a plaintive horn solo atop skittery beats, you know you’ve hit gold.

Archived article by Ed Howard