It's sort of funny - for how prevalent hip-hop has become to our society how mainstream it has become, yet the future has always seemed to be contained on mix tapes. It's where the real disciples of the sound perfect their craft and try out ideas free from the homogenization of aboveground culture.
These days, mainstream hip-hop and the club music it references are almost interchangeable. The materialist subject matter - getting paid and getting laid - over slick R&B beats seems somehow disappointing. Is this really the best we can do, nearly four decades into an artform? Are we doomed to commodification? It all seems so clean and slick and presentable, so far removed from the gutter stained roots of the original movement - so far from the streets.
Dirty, the debut mix tape from DeFault Universe collective co-founder MiloFuk0 is wonderfully old school. The production is stripped and efficient, a simple looped beat and a couple of samples used to great effect, while the MC, joined by a few friends, takes hip-hop back to it's geeky roots, dropping cartoon and sci-fi references like Wu-Tang used to with old Kung Fu movies. Somehow, I feel like this world of horror movies, video games and robotic cartoons will be more relatable to many than a fantasy of drug slinging, limos, club and stacks of Benjamins and will be more empowering in that regard.
A quick look at the tags on Bandcamp give a Cliffnote preview of what you're in store for when you hit the arrow button; Trip-hop, underground and psychedelic hip-hop. That means it serves its beats chilled, perfect for late night relaxation with whatever suits your fancies, as well as weird and warped. The term 'psychedelic' is the one that stands out to me, providing a wider application of that term, which too often is used to evoke a cartoonish image of bubble letters and lava lamps, and yanks the rabid fangs of psychedelia's continual derangement of the senses. MiloFuk0 remind us of being awake for two days, paranoid and sleep-deprived, the world melting into neon puddles at your feet. This mixtape injects some much needed weirdness and danger into both hip-hop and psychedelia.
The music is attributed to high level producers like MF Doom, Samiyam and Tyler The Creator. I couldn't find a lot of information on this release, but one wonders if these producers knowingly donated their tracks and if that even matters. This sounds like some young upstarts grabbing a hold of some instrumentals and letting fly with whirling vortexes of superhero verses. Rather than being a bad thing (some are kind of down on this kind of approach), it seems to me like a couple of MCs who are hungry to say their peace and will do so at all costs. This DIY approach finds the point where hip-hop and punk rock converge. They did both come from the same time and place, after all (New York in the late '70s). In the process, it further dissolves artificial racial divides, as both the music and the lyrics will appeal to anyone who loves raw, heartfelt hip-hop.
The Default Universe collective have dropped three releases since Dirty. They are on fire, burning with inspiration and work ethic, with the words and grooves to back it up. For anyone who believes there is more power to hip-hop than to sell sneakers and coke, here is your new cult. For the weird, the faithful, the geeks, the nerds, the cool, the MPC warriors and turntable wizards. Basically, this is for anyone who loves hip-hop and feels that it can do better than the slick mainstream version.
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