Sunday, February 22, 2015

Dose One's 8 Mile CD

Be Evil is is a limited 2009 album/mix from Dose One I just recently picked up  because I missed the CD when it was first released. That's the problem with the indie music scene these days: with everyone self-distributing, you have to be up every single artist you like's ass, on multiple social media outlets, or you never even hear about their rare indie releases. But I stuck it on a couple watch lists and in 2015 I've finally got it for a reasonable price.

So Be Evil runs the gamut from impressive to cringe inducing, mostly spinning around somewhere in the middle. It's 100% freestyle, and not just in the old school sense where the rhymes don't have to pertain to any specific subject matter, but meaning entirely off-the-head. More than half the songs are live recordings from radio performances, battles and stage performances. A lot of it's acapella, or over some pretty random, constantly changing beats. It's a very patchwork experience, with the recording changing sometimes even during the same CD track. Sometimes Dose comes with a slick flow over a good track and comes surprisingly tight for a totally unprepared song. Other times, you hear him stumbling for words and reaching to put together the most generic battle phrases and broken ideas like, "you can get a crutch and a kick in the butt. For what you came up here to get desecrated. Who's next to get my dick in they guts? Where you want it, gut or gut?" There's moments you're surprised he put it on the album for everyone to hear and last for prosperity.

Some of the battles also feature his opponents, and they run just as broad a range. One will have a pretty nice flow and punchlines, showing up Dose on his own record, others sound like it's their first try rhyming. One "battle" just has Dose and the other guy yelling over the top of each other, not even rapping, just yelling cheesy "snaps" at each other until the other guy gets completely flustered. Dose certainly wins, but it's not a remotely impressive show on anybody's part. It's just embarrassing and reminds you why most hip-hop heads switched to r&b when they hit thirty.

Dose also takes some surprising shots at other MCs. He calls Arrogant a wack rapper (really, in 2009?) and comes up with a whole little verse about Eminem:

"Oh, that's wild!
You really like the most famous sell out white rapper,

Hire black friends, come back as actor-
dude ever? You respect that? Well, I sure don't.
He can get nothing but his throat slit with a hot quote.
Mm-hm, Never freestyled then, probably don't now.
All he is now is some kind of fiscal cow.

That a bunch of people suck on the teet of."

Oh, okay. Didn't know he had an issue with him.

Anyway, I don't want to get too down on Be Evil. The impressive content easily outweighs the junk. And it was nice to hear him back firmly in the hip-hop genre, as opposed to whatever indie electro folk rock or whatever he keeps drifting further into. I think he's already gone back, so wave goodbye. Dose is full of creative energy, which makes this at least interesting for fans of freestyles and indie battles. But none of it is ever as listenable as his written songs, and it really just points up the fact that off-the-head rap battles don't make for a good album. Rap battles have come a long way since the carefully rehearsed routines of the Cold Crush and Force MCs; and it wasn't necessarily a good way. Be Evil is ultimately just a curiosity piece, because it has almost no replay value.

If you want it, though, and don't want to wait another five and a half years to find it for a good price online, you can at least download it from his bandcamp for a buck. There's also a short, seventeen minute sequel called Free Evil, which was only released as an online freebie. I listened to it once, and I think it was actually more consistent than Be. But if you're a serious fan, you've probably already got this and are quite happy with it; there's enough here for that.

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