After distancing himself from the Panthers; Stokely Carmichael reclaimed his sovereignty by changing his name to a more original and liberating form, becoming Kwame Toure. For his latest release, Declaime would do the opposite, and revert back to his government name to release music as Dudley Perkins; a move he has executed smoothly and without losing any of his creative freedom. As an artist, he has a lot of dope musical connections within his proximity; he’s a close cohort of fellow Oxnard resident Madlib, and is married to Georgia Anne Muldrow, one of the most sought after producers in the underground right now, and a highly gifted singer. His role if pigeon-holed would be that of consistent musical liberator; emancipator from the boxing-in process all musicians invariably go through upon gaining recognition. He uses his position as a Stones Throw artist to his full advantage; aligning himself with their eclectic musical output and open-minded fans by indulging in his eccentricities on wax without fear of alienating an unaccepting audience. For Dr. Stokely, Dudley has stepped away from the Stones Throw stable for a minute, and released the LP with help from one of Brooklyn’s classic diggin’ spots: FatBeats, and Arizona’s Mello Music Group, an independent label putting out the pinnacle of America’s new D.I.Y Hip Hop generation.
In the Four year gap since his last solo release he’s released music with his wife, formed an indie label called Someothaship Connect, toured the country and spent time soaking in the musical and psychological landscape to hone his sound even further. The funk influence is making a strong return on the Westcoast this year, which can only mean good things for Dudley, as he’s been flying the funk flag for a while now. Dr.Stokely revamps his already innovative style once again, applying an electronic overhaul to the 60’s-influenced sound without sounding stuck in the past. As with Dam Funk, Dudley’s take on the genre is more a forward-thinking continuation of the work of the legends than a step back towards it.
The whole album heaps on an old school bounce that compliments the futuristic funk Madlib, KanKick and Georgia Anne Muldrow provide with their production, and furthers Perkin’s work on A ‘Lil Light Ten years ago; bringing it to it’s logical musical conclusion. His previous more straight-laced raps are still present, but take a backseat to more progressive vocal lines as he contorts words over heavily effected ad-libs, then spins on his heel and starts drawling out lines with a smooth, non-linear delivery. Like G Funk, this danceable new version of Hip Hop is highly musical, and blends the street sound and attitude into it’s core to create new genre-bending songs; Lootpack fans will be pleased that Dr.Stokely‘s resident scratch technician is DJ Romes, and the sound he helped pioneer with the Beat Konducta and Wildchild is still audible throughout.
The second single Stokely’s Cafe is a well-placed introduction; there’s an atmospheric layer that sets it apart from current rap trends and even his contemporaries in the underground. His fly lyrics are humble in their confidence, and his flow is as musical as the bassline. Tracks like Prescription, Episodes and Rhythmic Procedures possess the thick, electric funk that make this album so exciting; the heavy undulating bass swims around in the genre soup created when a group of musicians this forward-thinking get together. Songs like Geriatrics sublimely illustrate Dudley Perkin’s skill for simple, effective song structure, and the pop composition and catchy verses belie it’s lyrical depth. Perkin’s content is as dope as the instrumentation; he’s got a real laid back style that still packs a punch like the best orators, conceptually he comes from a place of deep spirituality that emanates from his righteous rhymes. The ever-present upbeat groove that drives the album veers into straight Hip Hop at points; Hearing Test especially reminiscent of 90’s G Rap brought up to date; packing scratched choruses, neck snapping drums and tight wordplay from legend Percee P.
The words of KRS echo throughout the conceptually cop-baiting words on Headaches. “Even unarmed, you could get harmed,crooked cop, black cop around, black shot in the back, never got a chance to bust back”. With the even more prevalent incidences of police brutality and the increasingly callous and remorseless murder of innocent people now seeping into the consciousness of communities directly unaffected by the strong arm of the law; the message is poignant. The beauty of Dudley’s music is in it’s variation; from the aforementioned social commentary, to Lung Specialist’s herbal hobbies, he adapts his style to compliment any track he’s on; the loose bump on Electric Shock could leave a less malleable MC dumbfounded, while Perkins rides the rhythm with ease and creates another banger.
The simplicity of Kankick’s beat on Foot Surgery accommodates a more involved, convoluted rhyme scheme; which is executed to perfection. “ Funk monk at your local record store, so Old School, but still so cool like I been preserved in time, resurrector of a lost art, eye doctor for the blind , holistic healer for the dark heart, stimulator of the mind, innoculate ya with the sharp darts.” As far as the lyrical depth and heavily stratified production goes, I could go on for days; but all you really need to know is this is where it’s at right now if you’re looking for new underground sounds from the U.S.
Dudley Perkins doesn’t compromise on representing himself to the fullest, using his Hip Hop to fulfil the role Mos Def described as a ‘real life documentarian’. He’s a father, a prolific artist, a luminary in the scene, and a man walking the path of God, using his words to create the reality he envisions mentally. Whatever religious dogma you ascribe your worldview to, we’re all blessed to share this spiritual journey with Dudley Perkins through his songs.
Grab a digital download of the album here, or get a physical copy from the usual retailers when it drops this Friday.