Dusted Reviews

Darkleaf - Fuck The People

today features
reviews charts
labels writers
info donate

Search by Artist

Sign up here to receive weekly updates from Dusted

email address

Recent Reviews

Dusted Reviews

Artist: Darkleaf

Album: Fuck The People

Label: Ubiquity

Review date: Jul. 14, 2002

If you were to read anything interesting about Ubiquity Records’ left coast hip-hop collective, it would undoubtedly involve that Darkleaf is the other half of the infamous Los Angeles underground outfit, Unity Committee (The other half being Jurassic Five). It would be negligent of the label not to try to attract J5 fans simply because there are so many. As well, record labels and stores alike tend to make ridiculous “Recommended If You Like” parallels to entice the buyer, but this is actually a case of true coattail riding. Be not fooled, however, by this vague relation; the two crews, though they share an ambiguous origin, certainly do not have much more in common other than eccentric aliases. While the numeric value in Jurassic Five’s moniker is misleading (there are actually six members), there are indeed five members in Darkleaf: Kemit, Metalogic, Longevity, Jahli, and Mixmaster Wolf (of Stones Throw’s Breakestra). Each member is credited as bringing lyrical styling to their debut effort for the Ubiquity imprint, save Wolf, whose scratching instead does the speaking. I deliberately employ the word “speaking” here as descriptive of the spoken word style on this record, which we shall discuss shortly.

So there you have it, cousins of the ultra-successful J5 now doing their thang. Namely, creating an eclectic sound that they too, can pedal to the college kids and underground hip-hop junkies, all the while name dropping their Unity predecessors, J5. Imagine the scenario of the little brother of the great high school athlete, and the pressure of following in big brother’s footsteps—and then the torment of not living up to those expectations. What you have here is little brother attempting to exploit the same formula that big brother successfully implemented a few years prior. The result: torment. The problem: lack of talent.

Fuck The People starts off with a promising maiden track titled “Eclectic Storm.” Noticeably dark and immediately brash, the intelligent lyrics and driving beats set a compelling forefront to well choreographed samples and fills. Though there are few breaks in the initial backbeats, the mildly supplemented scratches suffice as just enough relief of uniformity without sounding busy. At a mere 2:45, it left me hungry to experience the remaining forty one minutes of Fuck… Darkleaf fail to satiate that hunger as they gradually let the listener down by sleepwalking through the great majority of the album.

It seems that the idle beginning of “Word Bound” is most representative of Fuck; a monotonous palpitation of a garage-sale quality bass drum behind an aged high-hat and a sticky snare drum. This time the samples are muddy and difficult to recognize, what with the apathetic meanderings of the random Leafer spouting “Ugh” over and over. Needless to say, an underwhelming follow-up to the brilliant beginning. A bit ironic as well, considering the song title. “Sounds of Armageddon” is a bit more upbeat and the steady vocals are delivered with a relaxed class among Spanish horns, which pepper the track. Again, impudent fills and well-placed drum-and-bass smashups sporadically occur and seem reminiscent and suggestive of the dim lit feeling of the album intro. The only difference is that this track drags on over a minute past its would-be bedtime, whereas the former was concise. “Contact” features celestial lyrics on top of another simple beat that never peaks, however ceases for an interlude of rhythmless fuzz then proceeds back into the underdeveloped beat it started out with. On “Spanish Fly” the listener is reintroduced to a Spanish horn sample that really carries the song on its brass. Another flash in the pan of creativity, “Spanish Fly” should have replaced “Contact” on the 2002 Ubiquity released No Categories 5. On “Commercial,” Darkleaf unwittingly begins with a generic guitar riff and proceeds to tread water. By the latter half of this record a kind listener will find redeeming moments in a barrage of sequences and arrangements such as those found on “Triple Stages,” or the thoughtful lyrics on “Love Is Falling.” A callous listener, however, will find herself disenchanted and bored.

The penultimate track is oddly titled “Outro.” With no intro included and because it is indeed not the final track, you have to wonder exactly what they meant by calling this record Fuck The People, especially because it reads more like an intro. Lyrics to this clunker include “We are Darkleaf; We’ve been doin’ this shit for ten years; What’s it going to take?” Good question. A better record, perhaps? The last and title track is all of fourteen seconds long and features one of the Leaves saying “Fuck the people” then echoes against reverb. Hmmm.

Ultimately what we have here is a good 12” single. Offer up “Eclectic Storm” and “Spanish Fly” as the B side with all the trimmings (instrumental versions of both songs) and even J5 has something to contend with. This full length as is has the listener jaded early and skipping around before taking it off less than ten minutes after putting it on for a spin. It is anticlimactic and watered down. Fuck the People is that patented coffee table sound with which Ubiquity has become associated. Not that it’s a bad thing; I look forward to hearing these tracks overhead at that uber-hip grocery store or at a trendy restaurant in the city very soon.

By Billy Shand

Read More

View all articles by Billy Shand

Find out more about Ubiquity

©2002-2011 Dusted Magazine. All Rights Reserved.