WHAT RHYMES WITH...
THE GELATINOUS AVANT HIPHOP OF cLOUDDEAD
The ethereal hiphop of cLOUDDEAD comes off as hella introspective--like hanging out in the gelatinous inner-regions of the trio's heads. That's why, to balance out their esoterically personal lyrics, cLOUDDEAD--which consists of emcees Doseone (Adam Drucker) and why? (Yoni Wolf), with producer odd nosdam (Dave Madson)--is incapable of functioning without adding a sarcastic, prankster element to the mix: absurdity. Under their artful, sound-sculptural production, for instance, they've lodged measures-long shout-outs to dead presidents (e.g., "Grover Cleveland is way underground"...even big G.W. gets a tongue-in-cheek mention). The rhymes of cLOUDDEAD are experimental and groundbreaking, but always filtered through a constant, flippant self-awareness.
cLOUDDEAD swallows all preconceptions of hip hop and spits them out topsy-turvy. The Bay Area group raps with an amazing, trippy harmonic quality, with lyrics such as, " Dirt shirts, plastic flower print, poet headed for bore the messenger practice. A tactile cactus," or, "I'm leaking into stoned and severed existence/I've been consumed by my own breath." This rhythmic journal-speak, when paired with odd nosdam's peripheral, ambient beats and samples, expands and contracts like wax in a lava lamp. By traversing the realms of creative eight-tracking and drugged rhymes, cLOUDDEAD's music collapses the listener into a kaleidoscopic, dreamy vertigo.
Emerging as three gifted emcees/four-track aficionados known as Greenthink, Doseone, why?, and odd nosdam hooked up with the revered, arty hiphop collective Anticon after moving to Oakland, CA, from Ohio. As cLOUDDEAD, their first records, a series of 10-inches recorded in 1999 and 2000, slowly became cult favorites among smarty-pants hiphop-heads and hardcore electro kids. They've been touring on those cLOUDDEAD albums for the past two years, although the three have landed plenty of guest spots (on Hood's Cold House, Onry Ozzborn's Alone, TTC's Ceci Ne Pas un Disque) along with solo records and side-projects. Explains Doseone, "You don't get that wealthy that quickly ding what we're doing, so one of the only perks is getting to collage music with other people."
Dose say's their up coming full-length is along similar lines as their older stuff, with the same "household ingenuity" that allowed them to sample blenders and half-sing their asymmetrical lyrics on the first tracks. "There is a cLOUDDEAD sound, and we like to let that happen naturally and not force it. Some of the stuff on the old record is forced, so now when we return to it we let it congeal around the three of us spending time together."
As to what sort of process could lead to such slippery, unique music, Dose says, "We're always trying to be honest, and sometimes we're so intense and even melodramatic, so we do the whole laugh-at-ourselves humor aspect as well. We try to run the gamut. And we're all delightfully not musically trained, so we get this equilibrium of frustration--and also semi-pure wonderful moments--out of our lack of know-how."
It's this honesty and humor that allows Dose and why? to write thoughtful lines such as, "I'm as "I'm a lonely frontier boy/sordid terminal man." But, almost as a warning, the most famous cLOUDDEAD line goes, "Fuck 'em if they can't take a joke." However near profound they might get, the three can't keep themselves from verbal antics.