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Deep Puddle Dynamics / Anticon - More From June / We Ain't Fessin' (double quotes)

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Artist: Deep Puddle Dynamics / Anticon

Album: More From June / We Ain't Fessin' (double quotes)

Label: Anticon

Review date: Mar. 31, 2002

In the past few years, Anticon’s highbrow hip-hoppers (and their associates) have provided each other with some of the most intricate beats and innovative backings of contemporary hip hop. Unfortunately this smooth production is often tempered by gratingly difficult (but intelligent) flows whose singing arhythmics foil the potential for brilliance. Repeated listens can often provide gasps of potential unreached, and certain voices provide more support than others, but as a whole Anticon have never really shown us their best stuff. Funny thing then that their finest achievement would come from an unshelved two-year old EP that features guest producers and sprawlingly chaotic structures. However, here we are with the “We Ain’t Fessin’ (double quotes) / More From June” EP,and now it seems like maybe Anticon had it right all along.

The first song, “More From June,” is technically by Deep Puddle Dynamics (an Anticon subsidiary of sorts) and was recorded way back in June of 1999. Most noteworthy (perhaps of the whole EP) is John Herndon’s production on this song. Herndon, whose virtuoso hunchbacked drumming caffeinates both Tortoise and Isotope 217, has tried his hand at electro before under the A Grape Dope alias as well as on scattered moments of last year's Standards. The same dubby echoed snares and ghostly tones are found on “More From June” and are quite effective with vocals on top. The all-star affiliates each provide a verse (or at least part of one), as Slug, Eyedea, Alias, Dose, and Sole each chime in equitably. Voice and production play off of each other cleverly as Eyedea’s staccato delivery matches Herndon’s snare breakdown and then gives way to whooshing yips to back Dose’s slurred delivery. Subtlety in production (frequently too absent in hip hop) adds eloquence both lyrically and musically as Herdon’s ear is well tuned to each lyricist’s unique inflection and character. Party music it is not, but the musical manifestation of this meeting of innovators sounds as intriguing as it looks on paper.

The second song, “We Ain’t Fessin’ (double quotes),” an Anticon anthem of sorts, features vocals by Alias, Passage, Dose, The Pedestrian, Why?, and Sole, as well as production by Jel, Mayonnaise, Alias and Odd Nosdam. Not only is this a large percentage of Anticon’s members, but it is a lot of people overall to have worked on a single song. This is achieved by a slick job of good old-fashioned mic-passing and a slightly more jarring job of laptop-passing. The song characteristically lacks a chorus, but has structure, in that it seems to have an introduction, a body, and a conclusion. The repetition of the line “The first lie wasn’t much of a lie / Less like a lie more like a wish with a spine,” is one of the only things that connects the songs various parts, the rest of which sound as much like snippets from other songs than they do interrelated parts of the same. The song rarely lingers on a single beat or hook for more than 30 seconds and frequently jumps from quick perky beats to dark and bassey bits (and sometimes without any beats at all). The song’s many sections and leaps are effective on their own and, paradoxically, as part of the song as a whole. By the song’s melodic and intense climax, all of the preceding events seem to make inexplicable sense and the song, fully unfurled, shows itself as a masterpiece that is far more than the sum of its parts.

The EP finishes off jollily with “Pity Party People,” which was a highlight on Matador’s somewhat disappointing compilation, The Funky Precedent 2. The jingling production features a goofy guitar line and in-fading keyboard that wouldn’t be out of place on Thriller. The song is uncharacteristically precise and fun compared to the normally somewhat morose Anticon fare, but it does a fine job of closing off the otherwise weighty release. The “We Ain’t Fessin’ (double quotes)” / “More From June” EP finds Anticon in it finest forms and should sooth the discomfort often found in “progressive” hip hop.

By Sam Hunt

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