The art of bragging in Hip Hop is a time-honored tradition, one that has been around since the culture's inception. You're doper than this dude, your chain is bigger, your rhymes are tighter - you know the drill. Rakim did it, B.I.G. did it, Weezy does it; damn near every rapper brags (some better than others). It's an important tradition - one that Seattle's Dyme Def intends to keep going on their debut album Space Music.
Comprised of Fearce Villain, S.E.V. and Brainstorm (the group's primary beatmaker), Dyme Def has plenty to brag about. Their influences are clear, as "iAintNo" samples Eric B & Rakim's "I Ain't No Joke," and "TheGameNeedsMe" samples Jay-Z's famous line from "Izzo." Much like the aforementioned rappers, each of the group's members has a buttery flow, and are generally about having a good time, as is evident by songs like "StriktlyBusiness": "Crack and a half, the swagger is back, must be/You rappers is lackin' your rappin' is wack, trust me/Ill flow - beat it up, human crack - heat it up/Cats wack, wanna hate, here's a dick - eat it up."
With a title like Space Music, you would expect some far-out production - and you'd be right. Seattle's own Bean One (Boom Bap Project, Living Legends, Jurassic 5, X-Clan), produces all but 4 of the songs and provides the kind of heat we've come to expect from him. The intro track is something refreshingly funky, as is "GetDown." "ClapClap" brings back an old favorite as it samples Kurtis Blow's "The Breaks." The album does hit a bit of a lull with the appearance of tracks like "SoGood/itsBad" and "Fresh2Def," which stick out like sore thumbs in an otherwise excellent album. These tracks quickly become a distant memory, however, as songs like "AlottaRappers" have straight ill production and clever lyricism: "I'm 20 with the power to influence/How exclusive is that?/You ain't into it? You're excluded/Please move to the back."
Don't get it twisted though; while songs like "Sweat" address lighthearted subjects with lines like "I just wanna get brain/I'm a nerd," it's not all jokes. "LetItBe" is a heartfelt song in which Dyme Def discuss their personal demons: "I'm a point in my life that the main issue/Is to have a joint in my life they point at my life/And laugh, see I got two jobs and I'm still broke/See I got bad asthma and I still smoke/The doctor telling me my breathing is getting worse/And soon I won't be able to spit a verse, now I'm feelin' cursed/No turnin' to my dad cuz he's too far to look for/So instead I for him/But I don't look forward to seein' him/At night I still have bad dreams of bein' him"
When all is said and done, Space Music is a dope debut that should prove to be a landmark album for Northwestern Hip Hop. The beats are quite different from what you'll hear nowadays; a true school feel that happens to be quite radio ready. The subject matter is generally entertaining (and occasionally introspective), though it tends to get a little stale on some of the less engaging songs. These minor missteps are overshadowed by the group's greatest asset - their hunger. Dyme Def's unabashed humor, diverse production and subject matter make Space Music a pleasant surprise, and it will leave you wanting more.