Damu was a Sumerian God that brought vegetation, healing and abundance to the people of ancient Mespotamia. Damu The Fudgemunk is a God from Washington, DC. who brings ill beats for Y Society, cuts and scratches for Panacea and solo beat tapes to the people of Hip Hop. He also co-owns and runs Redefinition records, and releases albums by a roster of artists digitally, on vinyl, and sometimes on cassette.
This latest beat tape from Redefinition captures the sound of one man creating soundscapes on an MPC 2000 with flair and creativity. Most new ‘producer’ albums these days are all put together using timecoded vinyl, digital audio workstations and wav files downloaded from itunes. Damu keeps it traditional with sound and method, digging for breaks and loops to add to his huge record collection, flipping those samples into thick, layered compositions that are experimental yet classically rooted, then recording all his stuff on to floppy disks through the Akai. It’s really an album you need to sit down with headphones on and just appreciate; if you’re a Hip Hop producer, turntablist or gear hound, it’s nerd heaven. For the casual listener, it’s something relaxing, elevating and beautiful to chill out to that bumps along hard at the same time.
Over Seven tracks Damu takes you through a musical journey, guided by speech samples for narration as he effortlessly blends organic and digital sounds through a funky, old school, boom bap filter. Redef Mission Statement lets you know whats up from the get-go. They Who Flock is so catchy and well constructed it should be used for all xmas jingles this year so the ‘sheep’ from the hook can join hands and sing it gleefully unaware that they’re dissin’ themselves, it’s one of the strongest openers I’ve heard in a while.
Damu’s strength is in his understatement; as the waves of sound build to crescendos and then descend again nothing is rushed or overwhelming. He has a knack for introducing each new element with exact timing; the oft-used masquerade sample that B.I.G popularised made me laugh out loud when it came in it was so well-placed and refreshing after some of the gaudy use it’s been subjected to over the years.
Assembly Line has this indie feel that’s reminiscent of French electro outfit Air. It’s catchy enough, and is a good audible example of the amalgamation of old and new. The drums especially are crisp, clear and funky and add a focal point to this slightly meandering track. Fades Em Gone (Organ Grinder) kicks in with it’s low bass buzz coarsing beneath high electronic beeps and organ loops. It’s a great piece of nostalgic, jazzy electronica that benefits from an updated Hip Hop beat. The last few minutes are really noteworthy, as the rugged drive of the original rhythm exchanges it’s heavy handed bombastic approach to a cooler, church bell melody that teases a drum break then fades as quickly as it came.
The Discs used in assembling Spur Momento Trailer.
The second half begins with Blizzard tearing up the speaker as whirls of woodwind and strings swoop around digital blips and a rolling drum break. Three and a half minutes isn’t long enough; even though it took a few listens, it’s quickly becoming a stand out track overall and a real highlight on a short album full of highlights. Damu takes it Old School on Trenchcoat, Fedora & Briefcase with a 90’s beat updated for the now; complete with note stabs, a distinctive Eastcoast feel, subtle violins and some eerie female choral lines that are all dying for an MC like Jeru or G Rap to lay waste to. Things close with the mellow tones of Meadows, scratches glide along subtly underneath the surface, the melodies twinkle as if passing on the breeze, the whole track feels like such a throwback you can almost see the baggy Fila jumpsuits through the bassline. Labels like Redefinition are reigniting the golden era and bringing musical composition back to the forefront of modern American Hip Hop. If you never go without owning at least one copy of Illmatic & can finish the line ‘On the amen, corner I stood…’ then this new album from one of instrumental Hip Hop’s most dedicated, talented and righteous rising stars needs to be in your collection today.
Cop the double vinyl here.
Download the digital here.