dumate – dumate rite (the known knowns)
(2005 Inatty Records)
Hip-hop has had a hard time connecting with much of the popular-music community; far too many appear ignorant of the strong musicality that has always been a major aspect of the genre. For those who have never been able to grasp what hip-hop can accomplish musically, for those who have yet to connect, here comes dumate to make that connection. With members hailing from some of the most respected bands around, with flavors of reggae, jazz and R&B informing their sound, this band has the ability to impress the most discerning hip-hop heads while demonstrating to the unconverted the power of street knowledge.
Mr. Parker, of Smokin’ With Superman fame, delivers the first flow of the album with defined finesse and confidence, exuding star power with both his tone and talent. “dumate writes” introduces this disc with a simple, direct and solid drum beat, classic keys performed with laid-back control, and refracting rhymes bouncing through the rhythmic structure. The violin that enters the scene as the track entitled “Mr. Parker” begins plays off the delayed and delicate Rhodes, performed by A2the (of Natty Nation), creating a haunting vibe. As the hi-hat, played by the multitalented JAH Boogie (bassist for Natty Nation), adds the rhythmic underpinning, the kick hits, the snare snaps, harmonies fill in the strings and the effect is palpable. By the time Parker adds his voice, the groove is strong and subtle at the same damn time. I don’t care if you think you don’t like hip-hop, this shit is impressive.
“Mercury rising” reveals dumate’s vocal prowess in spades. The choruses create layers of vocal strength, and the tonal depth of Boogie’s soulful baritone, A2the’s clean harmonies and Parker’s lyrical presence complement each other. The album progresses from the gritty old-school flavor of “i’m back” to the R&B sounds and comedic road story of “she wants it” to the uplifting dub texture of “hold on,” which offers Boogie the chance to display the soul and edge that his voice instills in the mix.
It is on the song “hold on” that the social message of dumate crystallizes, revealing their unifying, conscious context. That message is continued in the next track, “carry on,” with a decidedly reggae form and finish, featuring lines like “we need the knowledge to get us out of Babylon / we need the Jah Jah love and protection / we need some inatty, we need some direction / got to build a better nation” sung with heartfelt conviction. Parker adds lines like “Here’s a question maybe got a couple / why do all my people stay deep up in their troubles? / i’m not talking about drugs, guns or jail / but the systematic extinction of black males / the haves all say that we do it to ourselves / when we gonna learn to start doing for ourselves?” The combination of a serious roots musicality with modern flow and style delivers a complete and cohesive message of connection and revolution.
Local lyrical masters Rob Dz and DLO show up in the final few tracks with turntable flavors added by DJ Newsense and P3096. Dz (reviewed this issue) uses his impeccable control and always-inspirational point of view to contribute considerable dimension to “lunch time.” DLO, a formidable talent who is steadily building a stellar reputation in this town, adds his raspy, rough edge to the final track, “1 for the trouble.” But it’s the subdued, deep, ethnic feel of “incredible” that leaves the most indelible impression. The organs mesh with Eastern-inspired strings, delayed into the mix with a psychedelic sound that is utterly engaging. The scratches that form the hook in the chorus are tight, tasty and slick, mutating the lyrical delivery and creating an authoritative statement of heart and vision.
As remarkable as this album is, the band is already moving beyond it and breaking new ground. While Boogie played all the bass and drums on this offering, the band has added local bass genius Bobby Peru (El Clan Destino, MadiSalsa) to the mix, adding even more cross-cultural character. dumate has their eyes facing forward, looking to the next challenge and the next stage. However, this album is a fantastic introduction to the potential of modern hip-hop. The structure, content and significance of this album will undoubtedly bring new fans to the fold and introduce the vitality of dumate’s brand of live hip-hop to fresh ears.