A schizoid sound sets cLOUDDEAD apart from more familiar hip-hop, but the group's sense of community, a hip-hop hallmark, pulls it closer to the subculture's ethos. Members of the Anticon collective work in different pairings as they see fit, none worried about stepping on the toes of any other - they all roll lavishly on the nonsensical side of life.
cLOUDDEAD's melodic counterpoint to Doseone's nasal thuggish-ruggish delivery, Why? recently split off with Nosdam to form Reaching Quiet, an experimental ode to broken instruments, 8-bit video gamers and 8-track home tapers. Why?, a follower of everyone from De la Soul to Dylan Thomas and bob Dylan, takes literal poetic license.
"Some people [including Nosdam] complain sometimes because there are lots of 30-second Reaching Quiet songs. But if it's a two-line poem, I'm not going to stretch it out into two minutes."
For the tour, Why? and his groupmates are translating their bedroom aesthetic with a more stage-friendly approach: cLOUDDEAD will feature a live electronic drummer, while Reaching Quiet is backed by a full rock band.
"Doing it live, you have to figure out a way to make it live," says Why? "In the recording process a single person can do it because they can tweak it. Live, you have to grab the energy right when you have it. There are no second takes."
No second takes, perhaps, but probably lots of double-takes, as listeners try to absorb what cLOUDDEAD and Reaching Quiet are emitting. Some will answer the question, "What is hip-hop?" by saying hip hop is played out. But groups like cLOUDDEAD and Reaching Quiet are playing out to show what hip-hop can be.