To realize the dramatic chasm between underground and mainstream hip-hop, one need only consult one Doseone, an enigmatic head case in any scene. While Top Forty MCs continue the tired rhetoric of getting paid, getting laid, and the penthouse where they last stayed, Dose talks about... um... well, its hard to say what Dose is talking about. It's safe to rule out "bitches" and "ho's" for starters, though, and you can be sure that his cerebral rants, which walk the fine line between homeless man and shaman, are quite unlike any you've heard before. But like fellow freaks Kool Kieth and Dell the Funky Homosapien before him, rest assured Doseone will be heard from.

"Its really a movement," he proclaims talking the avant hip-hop scene that he and his coconspirators at the Anticon label have begun to raise to a formidable level with a slew of recent releases. "In the city, nobody gets art school, you get art class, where you make a card for your mother. We come up with our own stab at expression. We don't have galleries, we have these shitty venues where hip-hop is looked down upon."

Born Adam Kidd Drucker and raised in various boroughs of New Jersey (Weehawken, North Bergen, Hoboken), the 23-year-old rapper writes rhymes that seem to stem more from a deep, psychological recesses and a never-ending education as the child of hippies than anything from his college town of Cincinnati. Ah, Cincinnati, now there's a city that fosters modern art.

Searching for a new expression in a sea of same-old-same-old hip-hop, Dose followed fellow renegade headz Jel and Sole from the Queen City to liberal Berkley, California, giving birth to Anticon in the process. Much like the Chicago avant rock scene or the Elephant 6 contingent of bands based out of Athens, Georgia, there's a sense of taking care of their own among Anticon's roster. In just the last year, Dose has released Circle (Mush Records) with yet another Cincy beatster, Boom Bip, and Them with Jel (Anticon), appeared on Deep Puddle Dynamics (Anticon) and Ropeladder 12 (Mush) and guested on Aesop Rock's grumbly, rumbly Float (Mush).

Have we mentioned yet that Dose and many members of the Anticon posse are white? Does it matter? Should it matter? No, no and no for those keeping score at home, but like the rest of the fairer-skinned MCs and producers in this crew, Dose emits an air that is almost colorless, like his rhymes owing more to a twisted mindset than a darkened skin color.

"Hip-hop has always been good at marrying the races on a real, subtle, harmonious level. That's what's really behind this scene," he says. Sucked in at an early age, Dose began his freestyling at a young age and has never looked back.

"It was all I could do in high school; it just all filtered down," he remembers. "You know, there were so many people identifying with it, memorizing their favorite songs. And then I just got compelled to start doing it. From writing raps to writing poetry and from making songs to making music, it's kind of a gradual, caterpillar evolution."

The same, of course, can be said of hip-hop, as artists like Dose challenge the rhyme codes that popular hip-hop has tried to cram down the throats of listeners. On the aptly titled, "Poetic License" (from Circle), Dose raps "don't believe in such things as collective church and state / I can writes Mother Theresa in binary code and 55378008 on a calculator." Uh, OK. (Editor's Note: Try this on a calculator and turn it upside down. Remember this from Fifth Grade?)

"The making of my rhymes are collections of poetry that I try to make somewhat linear... poetry that rhymes with the music, with the rhythm being the key," he says from Portland, where he and the Anticon crew have all come to search for underground hip-hop America and are apparently finding it. "We made a bunch of friends here. It's real unique," he says of Rip City, but he really could be talking about anywhere he and likeminded headz are eschewing intelligentsia for machismo. In this world, Dose is a part mascot, part spokesman, a clown prince of a poet whose whiny voice belies an almost shaman-like vision and work ethic (he has three, count 'em, full-lengths already in the can).

It will take time, Dose knows, but it already has. "Great artists that have been making music for the last seven to ten years, not getting paid and doing it solely for the love of it." Of course, they've laid the groundwork in scenes like Berkeley and Portland for labels like Anticon to spring up. "It's definitely a refuge because there are definitely people that are going to stay in that pocket."


Mush Records