DM and Jemini
Ghetto Pop Life
emini (no longer suffixed by the tag “The Gifted One”, although he has more claim than most of his contemporaries) lets us know the deal early on in this album. Voice of braggadocio, he tells us straight: "Spittin’ while I'm holdin’ my dick". That's the line right there, that's the only statement of intent you're gonna need this year. And it's a statement of intent from not only one of the best albums of the year, but also possibly the strangest.
Not strange in a “crap stand-up comedian going on an even crapper surreal bent” way, but in a “what's going on here way?” I mean, here we have a former major label signed musician, a former Tommy Boy roster member, a man from whom nobody has heard a damn note since Princess Di was still walking the earth, hooking up with a man named after perennial Cosgrave Hall animation favourite Danger Mouse. A man who doesn't do interviews unless he's wearing an animal outfit. It's a collaboration between a man that's done guest vocals on tracks by Genuine, Shola Ama, and Peter Andre and a man whose last major project saw him throw hip-hop acapellas over Radiohead samples. Just think about that for a second.
While you're thinking, ponder this: you know that whole underground/commercial rap debate? Ever noticed that nobody actually gives a shit? The only people pushing this tawdry fucking battle are trust fund white boys who seem intent on letting them know how black they are. You fall on that side, you wanna argue the toss about "undie" vs "bling bling", you wanna call a man racist for having different music taste to you. Go knock yourself out. I'll settle for being right.
And Ghetto Pop Life is the soundtrack to being right in 2003. DM and Jemini assault you on two fronts. Firstly, the beats themselves, because it's all about the beats, right? It is here, anyway. DM brings you the same brand of funk loops and samples that any student-beloved hip-hop act have rocked over the past 1825 days, yet he manages to twist them so they're both loud and shouty. The tracks go in like a lamb and out like a lion. It's enough to rock the club and the home stereo system.
And what about the flow, anyway, because it's all about the flow, right? It is here, anyway. The name Jemini, even to a part-time b-boy, instantly means that alternating high/low register trick he pulls. And it's a trick that works. The boy could take this trick out onto the street, David Blaine style, and randomly start flowing at people walking past him on the street. He can ride a beat as well, his vocal swerving in and out of the track like Juan Pablo Montoya. And as for the content? You want quotables? Even after the prementioned declaration of dick-holding/spitting multitasking? Fine: “Rakim said ‘You can catch a smack for this’/Fuck that black, I don't rap for free, I'm a capitalist”. Tattoo that one to your memory post-haste, because it's gonna keep you warm during the winter months.
Admittedly, there are one or two weak spots. Let's be honest here, does the world really need another George W Bush diss track, especially when the chances of Dubya dropping a retort on white label remain depressingly small? The guest spots as well, despite coming from first choice talent like Tha Liks and J-Zone, just seem intrusive. This is the work of two men, dragging anyone else along to share in the feast is plain foolish.
But, when you weigh the balance up, you are left with a former Peter Andre rap provider, spitting over a track that features a Broadcast sample. It's the greatest resurrection since Lazarus, except this time, Christ's wearing a rabbit costume.
Reviewed by: Dom Passantino
Reviewed on: 2003-09-01