Friday, April 10, 2009
Hip-Hop Fridays-Five Deez "Slow Children Playing" (2005) Amplesoul
Five Deez came out of Cincinnati in 1993 and were part of the Wanna Battle Crew that also included Talib Kweli and DJ Hi-Tek. The four members of the group (Fat Jon, Chilly Most, Pase Rock, and Sonic) didn't actually release anything until 2000. The group eventually went on to garner some notoriety, particularly with their 2006 album "Kommunicator", released by Rapster Records. Released at the same time was "Slow Children Playing", which also happened to be my introduction to the group, though I did hear "Kommunicator" immediately afterwards. "Slow Children Playing" is actually an assortment of tracks recorded between 1993 and 1998, and was initially released in Japan only, where they apparently have a large following. "Kommunicator" never really did much for me, I found it a bit formulaic, but "SCP" was very far from that.
The basis of Five Deez (short for Fifth Dimension, changed for obvious reasons) production on "SCP" is jazz. Now, this is hardly anything new for hip-hop, especially considering the years of production (1993-98). By the mid 90s seemingly every decent jazz sample had been mined, sampled, and then sampled again...and again. By 1993 DJ Premier and Pete Rock had perfected what Marley Marl had started back in the late 80s. What makes Five Deez use of jazz a little more interesting was in how many samples they piled together in each track. Rather than finding one horn loop and a drum break and using them as the basis of the track (as was the norm), Five Deez, who's head man on production was Fat Jon, found about a half dozen and mashed them all together to create a dizzying mix. The aptly named 'Cerebral Attax', which heads of this album and is posted below, is a perfect example: funky piano, horn blasts, shuffling drum beats, a little sax in background, and some echo on the vocals turn this into an incredibly heady track that can take several listens to fully absorb. The rest of the album follows suit. There is also a very warm and lo-fi feel to the production that gives "SCP" a restraint that's necessary when combining so many different samples. At times it can almost come off like a demo, but to me this is much more preferable to their slicker, later material.
Over top of this delightful mess is, of course, the MCs, who spin some serious avant-rhyming (ie. there are many lines that tend not to rhyme at all) that can be as hard to keep up with as the thick production. Apparently there are a lot of MCs on these recordings that are no longer with the crew, but these tracks whiz by so fast that it's hard to even bother differentiating between the MCs. It's little matter because what the crew lacks in distinct personalities they make up with in the production.
It looks like this one may still be available on CD, but the LP is long out of print. You may actually have to get yr local grocer to stock this, as I haven't seen this one in a record store in some time. Until then, you can download it below.