Get SF Weekly Newsletters
Pin It

Hip Hop's Hit Ticker 

Dabrye's nerdy interior

Wednesday, Jul 19 2006
While hip hop may be a relatively nascent genre, it's already dealing with some identity problems. The influx of commercialism is arguably turning a vibrant and informative music into cookie-cutter templates of materialism and violence, although admittedly sometimes with sparkling results. There are those whose production and topical matter bucks the mainstream, but therein lies another problem; sometimes the indie hip-hop scene sacrifices soul for cerebellum. Enter nerd rap. Innovative MCs and producers like El-P, Aesop Rock, and the Anticon crew expand upon the art form, but even they can leave the listener full of ideas yet hungry for the essential boom-bap. Fortunately, there's an entrant to the indie hip-hop playing field who manages to feed both head and heart: Tadd Mullinix, better known as Dabrye.

Dabrye, who hails from Detroit, also records minimal techno under the alias James T. Cotton. His roots in the e-music scene might lead one to assume that his new LP, Two/Three (Ghostly International), would be a mechanical, futuristic affair, a la Cannibal Ox's The Cold Vein. This is half-right, as his soundbank of samples does lean heavily on crackling beats and shimmering, robotic, synthesized tones instead of smooth soul loops and crate-dug jazz breaks. But Dabrye's touch is light and his understanding of hip hop sincere, resulting in one of the most off-kilter and enjoyable rap releases of 2006. And his efforts are aided in no small amount by the slew of underground guest MCs he's recruited. The ultra-prolific MF Doom spits his usual stream of consciousness on the lead single, "Air," which is just the tip of the iceberg: Vast Aire, Wildchild, Beans, AG, and the late, great Jay Dee also make noteworthy appearances. And Dabrye's instrumentals, usually the hardest sell of any hip-hop record, are just as engaging. Score another one for Detroit, as nerd rap finds it's got heart after all.

About The Author

Jonah Flicker


Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

Popular Stories

  1. Most Popular Stories
  2. Stories You Missed


  • clipping at Brava Theater Sept. 11
    Sub Pop recording artists 'clipping.' brought their brand of noise-driven experimental hip hop to the closing night of 2016's San Francisco Electronic Music Fest this past Sunday. The packed Brava Theater hosted an initially seated crowd that ended the night jumping and dancing against the front of the stage. The trio performed a set focused on their recently released Sci-Fi Horror concept album, 'Splendor & Misery', then delved into their dancier and more aggressive back catalogue, and recent single 'Wriggle'. Opening performances included local experimental electronic duo 'Tujurikkuja' and computer music artist 'Madalyn Merkey.'"