Five Deez - Kinkynasti
ittle did I know that only one year after graduation that I’d be going back to school. This time, however, it’s a bit more fun. This is due, in most part, to my relationship with my teacher, Mr. PA Simon. Oh- and the subject? Hip hop. That’s right. Mr. Simon has taken me under his wing, guiding me away from making mistakes that’ll get me beaten mercilessly at a hip hop show for my lunch money or flippantly dismissed by the ever-growing body of tantalizing females. No, I’ve taken my education seriously by refusing to care about what people think of me.
He’s been very gracious to me for these last few months, and very patient dealing with my hip hop ignorance (which didn’t border on illiteracy, mind you, but I’d hear him say “What!? You haven’t heard ��so and so’ yet” quite often). He’s opened these jaded ears to more than just the typical indie, “sit hop” stuff. I’ve learned how to nod my head again, and I guess he’d hate the fact that I’m writing this (“Man, time you could spend listening”), but I’d like to show you what I’ve learned so far, while hopefully highlighting some of the best of the genre. Because hip hop is bloated with countless recordings and, at times, it appears to be in danger of artistic collapse, but inevitably transcends stagnation with the help of a handful of passionate underground artists. So without further ado- my fourth term paper.
A no-brainer – when the production is on, the lyrics can be off…
Fat Jon The Ample Soul Physician. Just say that name again to yourself… a few times maybe. How does a musician end up with a name like that? And how does it end up identifying his sound so… amply? If you’re one of the unfortunates who has yet to hear one of Fat Jon’s productions, you’re probably thinking “pretentious,” or worse, “wack”. And that’s what I thought, too. That is, before I got hip.
I have to wonder if Fat Jon was one of those kids who wandered around the playground naively announcing himself by his absolutely ridiculous nickname to everyone he encountered, then spending the remainder of the day hanging on a flag pole somewhere. One thing is for sure, though: Fat Jon doesn’t fit in, not on this continent at least. What other hip hop producer here in the States has found the time to produce and release a tribute album exclusively to all his fans in the Land of the Rising Sun? The Japanese-only release of Lightweight Heavy was a gracious gesture, but resolved an age-old formula in the pop arena: “Big in Japan” = “Criminally overlooked” = “Usually forgotten”. Which, in case you have yet to guess, would be a mistake because Kinkynasti is one of those albums that every DJ should have in his/her bag, an album exhibiting a mood and style that could complement the flow of any dance music set.
Fat Jon is one fourth of Five Deez (sorry, there aren’t five of them, but may I remind you that there aren’t five in Jurassic, either), a classic Midwestern hip hop crew coming out of kinky, nasti Cincinnati, Ohio. But essentially, Fat Jon might as well be three quarters of Five Deez, juggling the vast majority of the production duties and stepping up to the mic more often than superfluous members Kyle David, Sonic and Pase Rock. After their debut in 2001, Koolmotor, Fat Jon went hard to work on becoming the most prolific producer in hip hop (hell, maybe in all of dance music), releasing three instrumental albums and teaming up with fellow Ohioan and super-producer in his own right, J. Rawls, as 3582 (a combination of the two’s pager codes). You’d assume all of this would sound pretty same-y and slapdash, but Fat Jon is a musical amoeba akin to George Clinton, absorbing styles continuously on his musical journey and incorporating them seamlessly into his music.
“The Boostin Jam” sounds as if Fat Jon recorded it immediately following his lyrical contributions to Pole’s new album. The electronic dubman’s muted, Rice-Krispies-in-milk sound covers the repetitive synth drone and up-tempo beat like a cold blanket. It pumps out of the stereo with an urgency and, more importantly, sounds completely unique when compared to the remainder of the album. But unlike Koolmotor, Kinkynasti remembers to stay close to home and never wanders too far out into musical experimentation, never forgetting to include a hard, party-centric hip hop beat. The title track kicks off the album with nothing but a nonstop series of horn and bass hooks and sports a chorus I find myself humming in public. (Awkwardly, I might add, because I don’t know what the hell Venus Malone is singing.) It’s a very hands-off, simple approach that comes as a pleasant surprise because the production could easily have been spoiled by Fat Jon’s eclectic “soul physician-ing”. But instead it stands as the album’s strongest cut.
Of the remaining tracks, first single, “Funky” is the most… shit… I just realized that these types of albums kind of do the work for you. Here’s a little Five Deez quiz for you: Guess what “We Rock On” and “B Girl” sound like? How about the instrumental tracks “The Rain” and “The Ocean”? But it’s not about how these tracks sound or how they’re intended to make you feel. What’s more important is how they’re put together, that is, impeccably, with a discernable ear for details that a lesser producer would have neglected.
“And the lyrics?” you ask. Well, to be honest, I don’t really notice them anymore (is that a bad thing?). Maybe it’s just me, but I’ve been listening to this album consistently for the past month and I can’t identify any of these guys when they spit. I catch a “wack” here and a “girlz” there, and occasionally a battle-baiting holla like “Ho!!!” in the mix. It makes you wonder how such a musically adventurous act can so shamelessly pander to the mainstream, but then I say “meh”. And I implore you, in case you were hoping for something a little more substantial, to consider the lyrics as sonic drapery for windows with a clear view of Fat Jon’s hip hop paradise. Throw your hands up and friggin’ dance, because if the words don’t move you, your feet will.
All you’ll need to know about the Five Deez agenda can be found on the chorus of “Four Black Dudes”: “We like raps/ You like crap ��cause you’re wack wit it/ It’s obvious we take a beat and start mackin’ it/ We avoid the bullshit you react to/ Five Deez, the crew, we’re four black dudes!”
What else do you need?
By: Gabe Gloden
Published on: 2003-11-13