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Dopestyle 1231 - KutMasta Kurt Presents Dopestyle 1231

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Artist: Dopestyle 1231

Album: KutMasta Kurt Presents Dopestyle 1231

Label: Waxploitation

Review date: Oct. 31, 2004

If it was 1993, Dopestyle 1231 would be an interesting group. Another of those West Coast groups, like Tha Alkaholiks and The Pharcyde, of a somewhat more East Coast vibe, with more straight-forward beats and less G-Funk, if perhaps also less charisma than The Pharcyde or Tha Liks. Their album would fit decently between Das EFX and Lords of the Underground cassettes in the second tier of a decent hip-hop collection.

Of course, it's 2004, and except for the occasional appearance on iPod shuffle mode, Das EFX isn't heard from much these days. KutMasta Kurt Presents Dopestyle 1231 is full of dusty, no-frills beats combined with non-descript, non-gangsta lyrics. The not-especially-dynamic duo MC Dopestyle and DJ/producer Tom C sound like that group with that one song on Soundbombing II you can't remember, the cats whose tracks end up mixtapes because of a dope verse by a guest emcee.

Neither beats nor rhymes compel here, but let's start with rhymes. Up against Del The Funky Homosapien ("Size Double D") and Kool Keith ("Wedgie"), who should be applauded for their generosity in appearing, MC Dopestyle's greatest flaw is revealed. Unlike his entertaining guests, who draw attention even with their B-material, Dopestyle, a mumbling monotone - except when he breaks into an annoying falsetto - doesn't compel the listener to hear a word he's saying. Sure, he has nothing much to say, with jokes about ya moms and jerking off in your coffin the height of his humor ("I'm Grendel," actually one of the album's highlights), but that's beside the point. Five songs into Presents…, and it's like he's not even there. I'm reminded of the reaction Phil Hartman's character on NewsRadio had to hip hop once he turned his stereo's bass down: "There are vocals to rap music?!"

In smaller doses, Tom C's production would be fine, but with the focus on his emcee, C's generic, dusty loops become irritating in their own right. Tom C. does the rock guitar loop thing alright ("Lone Ramblin'"), the second-rate Wu-Tang production okay ("Little Grasshopper"), and the horrorcore track fine ("Darkspell"), but with not a horn, a snippet of funk or jazz, or anything else melodic in his repertoire, the act grows terribly thin. And after the often-hookless wonder of Madvillainy, hip hop acts have less excuse than ever for the two forms of rap chorus on Dopestyle 1231: 1) saying/shouting the name of the chorus, 2) scratching various things once said on record. KutMasta Kurt Presents Dopestyle 1231 is not awful, but nor does it make a real case for its existence. In 1993, straightforward indie rap acts weren't that prevalent; in 2004, Dopestyle 1231 has to be treated like a door-to-door salesman - "Sorry, we've got plenty."

By Josh Drimmer

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