Mega Royal Records
Reviewed by Ahnon Knomis
In case you’ve been living under a rock for the past 9 years, Deepspace 5 represents the collective efforts of Beat Rabbi, Listener, Dust, Fred Bruno, manChild, DJ Manwell, Playdough, Sev Statik, Sintax the Terrific, and Sivion. “Collectively, the Deepspace family of artists have sold over 100,000 units worldwide. Members have toured the United States and Europe extensively… They’ve shared the stage with dozens of heavyweights, including KRS-One, Atmosphere, MF Doom and dozens of others… Traveled hundreds of thousands of miles and touched more than 2000 stages, all in the name of good people and good music”. That was a quote from the website of new label MegaRoyal Records through whom Ds5 dropped their fourth label release.
I’d be doing an injustice to the fans if I fail to mention there are at least two indie drops flying under the radar within the recent year or two that I personally know of. One is a mixtape using Alex Goose beats which where outtakes of Jay-Z’s The Blueprint 3 submissions. The other indie release is a short run fund raiser called Bakesale. If your keeping score at home that makes at least 6 Ds5 albums, EPs, or what have you… Should you be a collector of fine music.
So why mention the long standing catalog of Ds5 music. Well, listening to this album almost instantly takes me back to 2001. It was then I first heard Ds5’s debut classic “The Night We Called It A Day”. Back then I hadn’t come across too many super crew’s representing both the raw Underground sound of street level hip-hop, and the spirituality of Christian’s making good quality hip-hop music. The dynamic of each artist blends well as a conglomerate and deep song concepts had truly compelled me to call that album a classic!
Over the last 9 years I can honestly say the Ds5 formula of though provoking titles often with double meanings and concept songs with word play galore has drawn in listeners Worldwide. However, in my humble opinion there hasn’t been a Ds5 release that comes close to the way their debut impacted my head space. Not to say any of them were not solid releases unto themselves. That was, until now.
I will admit, just being two or three tracks deep into “The Future Ain’t What It Used To Be” I was hooked! I’m not quite sure I can give this a “classic” status just yet as those type of accolades tend to be something earned over time. Regardless, I know this will be one of those albums in my collection I’ll keep revisiting on the regular. When I get the itch to hear some Ds5 brand flavor coming from my speakers I’ll know which albums float to the top of my playlists and this latest offering is certainly #2 in my mind.
So enough with the synopsis and lets get into the album a little bit more.
With an album 15 tracks deep its nice to note 14 of them are solid and no fillers. The intro lays the groundwork layering everything you’d expect to hear from the album title including Doctor Emmit Brown saying “the future” in a rasta-dub echo over spacey sounds and synths just before Queen’s “We Will Rock You” drum pads lead Listener to hit a short couple of bars just before the second track jumps right in and hits you over the head!
Speaking of the second track, “From The Outside” is possibly my favorite on the album. You have a high energy break beat in sync with a funky southern rock guitar and memorable punch lines like Playdough saying “close yo credit and fade to black / got a Bible in the back with a gangsta rap” You gotta love it!
With any Ds5 album you get a good combination of weighty song concepts but equally a share of just good old rhyme flexing and mic control. While there is plenty of each going on with this album I’m calling my attention to a couple in particular that struck me as very clever. Given you understand the terminologies and background of the subject matter their speaking on… the heavy concepts set this crew apart from any other.
Here’s an example. On the song “Beat The Rap” the lyrics are a play on judicial terms where all the versus take a shot at the court system delivering raps like the emcee’s are lawyers before a jury stating their cases. What I like about this concept is how the verses twisted everything from Roe versus Wade to quid quo pro and still managed to make it all work so cleverly. Truth! You can’t handle the Truth!… Oh yea, you know it had to be thrown in there too.
Another clever flip on terminologies turned into a concept song came with “Natural Selection”. This may take a little understanding of the evolution of music media’s but nevertheless it works. Remember when you where a kid and the teacher would play the “Guess Who I Am” game? Then she would proceed to drop hints about who or what she was supposed to be without actually saying it? Almost like a game of charades? Well Ds5 likes their game of charades in rap form and wether you know it or not you find yourself playing along on this track. From start to finish you catch glimpses in the rhymes as they literally break down the evolution of music media from the first recorded record… to the cassette tape… to the latest being a digital mp3 file. Listen close and try to follow along guessing which emcee represents what media in their verses. If you pick up on the word play and get it you’ll understand why this was such a clever concept track and a hard one to pull off. Much respect!
A song that didn’t quite get over on me was “Killing With Kindness” where they took shots at the idiom contained in the song title. Lyrics like “stab you with my generosity / put you before me / your my cutie human shield / punch you in the face with compliments – so genteel / rub your back with a hammer all night long / hit compassion from your shoulder blades with a spiced rum”? Listener had me sitting in my car scratching my head going….. huh? What did he just say? I mean I get the twist on the wordplay and concept but I wasn’t sure about this one. Still undecided what I think about it but one thing is for certain… the lyrics are memorable! That’s saying something.
On a lighter side, one track which took me by surprise was “Black Magic”. This was is an old school throw-back beat with an 808 bassy drum track sampling the 80’s hit “Rock me Amadeus” by Falco. The beat had me rockin’ but there was also a few memorable lines making references on everything from David Blane to Yoda Jedi Mind Tricks… And if I’m understanding the concept correctly their dropping references on subjects with mind control or illusion. Not bad. I have to give props to Fred B for a stella verse followed up by Playdough who doubled teamed a couple of killer lines that had me reacting like a first round knock out punch in an MMA fight…. Ooooohhh!
Its been a while since a Ds5 album has hit me the way this one has and I’m definitely enjoying the album from start to finish. I highly suggest if your in the market for a good Summer album that both rocks the sound system and keeps you from rotting the 8 pounds above your neck… Go pick up this album and find out why The Future Aint What It Used To Be!
For fans of: Beat Rabbi, Listener, Dust, Fred Bruno, manChild, DJ Manwell, Playdough, Sev Statik, Sintax the Terrific, and Sivion
Purchase CD – download – iTunes