By Ben Westhoff and Sarah Purkrabek
By Steve Brennan
By Joseph Hess
By Allsion Babka
By Kelsey McClure
By RFT Music
By Christian Schaeffer
By Gabriel San Roman
Area hip-hop producers Splitface (Nate Womack) and June 16th (Chris Krug) join forces on Raydeeohh, an album that's evenly balanced between informed, politically-conscious rapping and laid-back, sample-heavy instrumentals. At their best, the duo's beats are unruly and alive — they get lost in depths of analog tape echo, skitter and stutter out of bounds and go off on psychedelic tangents. On opening track "Raydeeohh," an elementary drum-machine beat booms over the sound of vinyl static and a sample-mangled electric piano, while a female voice asks, "Whatever happened to the great DJs?" It's a trippy opening shot, but one that fits the slightly noir-like mood of the other tracks. Songs such as "Radio AirSlaves" (which features Frozen Food Section member Helias) work as found-sound collages, both using spoken-word recordings and jazz-inflected samples to bemoan the state of modern radio.
This stance carries into the more bellicose "Here We Go," as members of the Deadly Alliance boast that they are "staking their claim among hip-hop's elite." It's a claim that never really delivers, as the crew's stale raps and some sloppy production makes the song sound like a re-tread of the tired hip-hop that the rest of the record rails against. The collaborations pay off on "Calm After the Storm," as Ohio-based rapper Alleyes Manifest rhymes over an acoustic guitar sample and Helias' fleet-fingered scratching. Some of the cuts on Raydeeohh are hit-or-miss, but the album gives undeniable proof that Splitface and June 16th are inventive, creative producers with a deep knowledge of hip-hop's roots and a willingness to abandon formula in favor of something more holistic.
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