Doseone has played many parts over his 25-year career. He’s been an avante-garde philosopher for Deep Puddle Dynamics, memento mori muser with Germany-Oakland hybrid 13 & God, psych-spellbinder through Subtle, and something entirely new and accessible with his Anticon solo debut G Is For Deep. Leadoff track “Dancing X” foreshadows the path ahead and gets under the skin quickly with its shimmering layers and inviting refrain. It’s hard to believe that Dose, the same battle rapper of Scribble Jam lore occasionally accused of making weird records for the sake of weird, has grown into the well-rounded pop provocateur of today.
"Last Life" is the type of song that gets stuck in your head for weeks. "In the former life, were you the committed type?" the Anticon cofounder wails over soothing drums and synths. Dose’s lyrics are full of up-to-interpretation abstractions, and though G is easier to sink one’s teeth into than prior releases, it is still coded language. One of his more tangible pieces, “ARM in Armageddon,” finds Dose as end-times preacher, relaying, “If things don’t start getting less Armageddon-like, you might have to eat your only friend tonight.” There’s a morbid air lingering over the Bay Area emcee’s allusions.
Mortality deliberation aside, G is an infectious electropop oddity from the dude whose rap cadence has often resembled that of a forked-tongue gremlin from outer space. The ten-song release finds Dose pocketing his breathless syllable-slaughtering in favor of a bizarre, yet endearing croon. Though the rest of the album fails to live up to the lead single “Last Life,” it is filled with catchy melodies and cutting lines, such as, “This guilt of mine could turn abortions into wine” (from “Therapist This”) that warrant repeat listens.
Doseone - Last Life
The abstract rap veteran Doseone is a member of a whole lot of groups — cLOUDDEAD, Themselves, Subtle, 13 & God, probably a couple of others I’m forgetting. But his new album G Is For Deep is entirely a solo affair, and it’s the first solo thing he’s released on longtime home Anticon. On the album, he veers away from the Tourettic, breathlessly fast rap that brought him to prominence and toward a bent form of electronic pop music.
01 “Dancing X”
02 “Last Life”
03 “I Fell”
04 “Thy Pattern”
05 “Therapist This”
08 “SEE Answer”
09 “Arm In Armageddon”
10 “The Bends”
As new year’s resolutions are quickly forgotten and the simple-minded prepare for the latest apocalypse, world-renowned music scholar and breakfast burrito enthusiast Brett Uddenberg (San Diego Reader / URB Magazine) has compiled his top ten album list for this foul year of our lord, 2011.
1. TV on the Radio - Nine Types of Light
The Brooklyn-bred art rockers continue to dazzle with each new release. Nine Types of Light marked the emergence of TV on the Radio as the most important rock act of the new decade.
2. Serengeti - Family and Friends
Channeling personal misery into catchy, compelling narratives with the assistance of WHY?’s Yoni Wolf made Serengeti’s Family and Friends one of the year’s surprise hits.
Sam Beam expanded his bare bones approach dramatically with the sprawling Kiss Each Other Clean, possibly the most beautiful album of 2011.
The biggest story in indie music this year was unquestionably Bon Iver. As “Calgary” and “Holocene” suggested, the self-titled second album was a haunting masterpiece.
Flying somewhat under the radar was the sensational debut from the UK’s Ghostpoet. Lo-fi beats and one of the most smooth, laid-back deliveries in hip hop made for an exceptionally-rewarding listening experience.
The epic storyteller Astronautalis finally released an album that matches the king-hell brilliance of his live set. This Is Our Science boasts some of the finest lyricism in modern rap.
As the title implies, Canada’s Buck 65 has been making challenging, avant garde hip hop for two solid decades. 20 Odd Years included some gorgeous, emotive stanzas on songs such as “Whispers of the Waves” and “Paper Airplane.”
Ben Gibbard and company continue to build on their signature mid-tempo melodies. From “You Are A Tourist” to “Doors Unlocked And Open,” Codes and Keys is hands down their finest release to date.
Bay Area mainstays and Anticon veterans Themselves and Subtle combined with Germany’s The Notwist to form 13 & God and explore mortality in triumphant fashion.
Andrew Jackson Jihad came out swinging with the folk-punk opus Knife Man. The lyrics on 2011’s most human album are raw, heartfelt and occasionally hilarious.
Blue Sky Black Death - Noir
Antonionian - Antonionian
Sole & The Skyrider Band - Hello Cruel World
Released by anticon.
Markus Acher’s airy, crystalline vocals can make songs about aging and death oddly beautiful. Firmly rooted in existentialism, Acher’s dusty manifestos ride high over 13 & God’s densely-layered backdrops. Playing counterpoint to Acher’s crooning is the gonzo rap stylings (and occasional singing) of anticon veteran Doseone. It’s an unusual back-and-forth that delivers rapturous results on the seven piece band’s sophomore record Own Your Ghost.
13 & God, who first began recording together in 2004, is the unlikely marriage of German electro-pop outfit The Notwist (Acher’s band) and members of Subtle and Themselves, two avant-garde hip hop crews each led by Doseone. It is an organically-grown powerhouse that strays from the self-congratulatory and formulaic terrain so many mainstream supergroups fall victim to.
The lyrics, while laced with a heavy dose of defeat and inevitability, are delivered with such ethereal precision by Acher that they go down smooth. He occupies a solitary, haunting character on the record spelled by Doseone’s further dragging of the listener down the well. “You’re just another sound stopping in a major city,” Doseone relays on “Death Minor.” Making such heavy subject matter palatable is a tall task that 13 & God brilliantly conquer on the new 10-track opus.