FULL DISCLOSURE: I am affiliated with Crown City Records, and am friends with the members of Dues Been Paid.
RATING: 4 CHET BAKERS
When I sat down and started listening to the new EP by Dues Been Paid, a "super group" if you will, made up of Camiliano, Rod Da Blizz & Thruway, I had an immediate memory of 90's era hip hop. That was my favorite time for hip hop music, as anyone that has read anything I've written regarding hip hop already knows. That was, in my opinion, hip hop's finest era, and New York's finest era as well. You had so many dope MC's coming out of New York and putting out hot music during that time. Artists like Big L, AZ, Boot Camp Click, Black Rob, Canibus, Lost Boyz, Wu-Tang, Mos Def, Jay Z and of course "The Real King of New York", Christopher Wallace aka The Notorious B.I.G., just to name a few.
That era of hip hop was something else, man. That grimy feel to it, that had so many artists that served as the ultimate antithesis to the more pop aspects of Bad Boy Records that seemed to permeate the radio and MTV back then. It was that grimy hard edged hip hop that struck a chord with so many people within the five boroughs of New York and beyond the borders of the state.
I remember listening to some old DJ Lazy K tapes and she always had that grimy shit on there. That hardcore street rap music. I always marveled at some of those tapes because as someone that wasn't from New York, all I heard on the radio seemed to be Top 40 style hip hop/R&B (Which admittedly I loved and still love), but these tapes were completely different, and showed a whole other side of hip hop music. The aspects that lingered in the shadows waiting to f**k up someone who walked by in a shiny suit.
And that's what Dues Been Paid reminded me of. That street wise, hard edged rap that I remembered listening to back in the 90's. And to be honest it was a breath of fresh air. I've made no bones about the fact that in all honestly I despise what is passed off as "hip hop" these days. I can't stand it, man. I understand that there are phases that hip hop has always gone through. We've had the kind of fun loving party rap type stuff like Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince, JJ Fad, Kid & Play, etc, and we've had the more politically oriented hip hop like Public Enemy and Brand Nubian and Boogie Down Productions, and we've had the more street oriented artists like AZ and 50 Cent and whatnot. And between phases of greatness, we have the mediocre shit. I get that.
MORE AFTER THE BREAKBut today's hip hop sucks, man. You have these garbling nonsense spewing Odd Future dudes with their rape fantasies and whatnot, and you have these no talent having artists that are carbon copies of other artists and sound just like them, and I wonder when are we going to get back to the basics? When are we going to get back to the real hip hop shit? Not just the hard stuff, but the TALENT?
Spoken word artist Keith "Versatyle" Washington lamented in his piece "Industry Critique" that we had gone away from the actual talent requirements and had replaced it with simply selling sex and the like in place of having talent.
So in that sense I'm glad to see there are artists out there like Camiliano and Rod and Thruway that are still holding down actual hip hop music. Who are still holding on to that ideal that they can still make actual good music and there will be an audience for it. That there is still an audience for real hip hop music. And not just the hip hop heads from the 90's who remember what it was like to hear new tracks by these legends, but also from the newer cats who get tired of the nonsense and understand that it's not all like that. That there is still such a thing as real hip hop music, rather than this oversaturated garbage that you hear on the radio so much.
This EP "F**k Outta Here" contains 9 tracks, and is produced entirely by The Labor Department, which is Frank Diggs and Rod Da Blizz. And while the production and feel to it is straight 90's era flavor, the project as a whole is just really damn good.
An interesting thing to notice is that, much like the Dave Chappelle intro to the tape, there seems to be this line that has been drawn in hip hop. Each year that line has gone back and back and back. It's sort of allowed a regression of hip hop to where everything is shiny happy people type shit and there's nothing real anymore. Whether that's because people want to do what is considered "safe" and "marketable" and easily dispersed to the masses, or whether it's because people just don't have that fire inside them to keep making that good music anymore, I don't know.
I just know that Dues Been Paid has completely crossed that imaginary line and has established it's own territory in which there is no line. There is no box keeping them contained, there is no boundaries trapping them in. The world is available, you are now free to move around the hip hop landscape. Although, as I joked to Camilian0 after seeing the cover and the title, I think they may have some issues with Wal-Mart sales.
And anyone that doesn't take kindly to the line being breached, to all those out there who have a problem with people speaking the language of hip hop in ways that is not easily digestible by the masses, then Crown City has three words for you.
F**K OUTTA HERE!
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