SHITTY SAMPLER MUSIC OR SUICIDAL HIP-HOP?
Everything on the record was done under human duress. I was moving to California, they were staying at Art School in Cincinatti, it felt like we were breaking up, just as we were getting everything together." Doseone is describing the circumstances that surrounded the recording of the ten-inches collected together on cLOUDDEAD's eponymous debut LP, an album that takes the most abstract of hip-hop as its starting point, before spinning off into the creative outer reaches. It's the first release in this country from members of the avant-rap collective Anticon. It's also perhaps the most all-enveloping, engrossing, perplexing, sublime listening experience you'll have all year.
Samples and beats blend into murky post-rock grooves, all cooked up by nosdam at the controls. In the middle distance, tweaked MCs Doseone and why? Yelp, squeal and let loose dense walls of poetics that paint nightmarish, hilarious wordscapes, scrawling at the edges of all you thought possible in hip-hop. Translation: it's mighty fine.
"When why? And I work together, we form what we call our Poethead. It's like our version of Wu Tang Slang, this lens through which we see the world. Related themes that keep popping up. We balance each other out, too. We're all pretty open with our opinions, second guessing each other's decisions. It's healthy, we'll tell each other if we're not feeling what the other's doing. Sometimes I get too dark, sometimes why? gets too dippy... and nosdam and I are really tense, where why? is all laid back. We'll be tearing our hair out in the studio and he'll be laying back, eating cereal."
The relationship between the three began in Cincinatti, where Dose moved with his parents in his teens. "I hated it there," he laughs. "I was from New York. I started rapping, all that intricate shit we get hassled for not being into now - we sound like we do cause we worked through all that shit. But I hooked up with why?, and we started making music together on our shitty sampler. And a while later we saw nosdam using the same shitty sampler, so we started making this half-headed music together."
"Shitty sampler music" is Dose's favourite description of cLOUDDEAD's sound, but the MC for Deep Puddle Dynamics, Them and a whole bunch of Anticon offshoots says that this project is now his primary focus. And with why? and nosdam living in his apartment in California, there's nothing that can stop them now.
"It's emotional music. Jimmy Breeze is about why? contemplating suicide, cuz he hated art college. I can see why people won't get it," admits Doseone. "It's experimental, but if we are doing our job right, we're leaving breadcrumbs so you can follow where we're going. You might not get where cLOUDDEAD's at, at first. But if you go there on a rainy day, then you'll see."