DJ Devious :: The Double Deez Tape Vol. 1 ::
as reviewed by Matt Jost

At this point, I can only speculate as to what the 'Double Deez' in DJ Devious' "The Double Deez Tape" stands for. As a longtime admirer of Danish football (or soccer to you Yanks), I would like to believe that it stands for 'Danish Dynamite' hip-hop style, but common sense tells me these double d's simply represent the DJ and the Devious. Where's he from? Denmark, dummy. What's he doing? Offering us this mixtape (well it's a CD really, but you know the routine), sprinkling some Danish flavor atop a selection of US tracks. In all honesty, I don't think this was intented for an international audience, but since it's kinda different from your average Whoo Kid and Green Lantern venture, let's give it a shot.

The fact that there's a European DJ behind the decks might give you some clues regarding the popularity of underground hip-hop on this particular continent. While the big shots are as big in Europe as everywhere else on this planet colonized by American pop culture, like Japan, Europe is somewhat of a safe haven for underground artists. As paradox as it might sound, it is feasible that your average European hip-hop fan is more likely to be familiar with the tracks on this tape than his American counterpart. Of course since covers the whole shabang, our readership is already well familiar with the likes of Ill Bill, Chief Kamachi, Diverse, Insight and Q-Unique. R...ight?

Well, you may be, but I'm not. Having lived under the proverbial rock for the bigger part of the new millennium, most of this is brand spakin' new to me. Tracks like "This Is War" (7L and the Army of the Pharaohs), "One Shot" (Q-Unique), "The Best" (Chief Kamachi f. Guru) and "American History X" (Ill Bill) hit me with all the force of the initial impact. Granted, released in January 2005, "The Double Deez Tape Vol. 1" isn't as fresh as it could be. Still, it's as good a snapshot as any other mixtape. Ever dug up some old tape and marveled at all the curiosities it contains? That's likely to happen with this CD, especially with the unlikely line-up of Fabolous, Hot Karl, Redman and Celph Titled on "BLAO!" It's strange enough to have the Coast-to-Coast Gee, the Funk Doc and the Rubix Cuban on the same joint, but to see that same joint being hosted by a dude named Hot Karl who turns out to be a white rapper that was signed and later un-signed by Interscope is nothing short of exotic.

"It's All About Me Now" tells us that Juice won't abandon his freestyle ways anytime soon, and since the cut isn't exactly scorching, we'll probably never witness him properly join the elusive circle of recording artists. Others are already on their way to establish an impressive track record, if Diverse's "747 (Flyin)" or Insight's "Evolve" are any indication. Compiling artists from across the map, DJ Devious focuses on the music, lets the rappers finish and keeps his own mouth shut, making you realize it was more than just lip-service when he quoted Eso at the end of his "Devious Intro": "Cause I'm takin' it back / to a time when it was cool to call hip-hop rap."

The inclusion of homegrown material serves to solidify the image of hip-hop as one big family, but not only would this reviewer rather listen to an exclusively Danish mixtape, he's ready to wager that a Danish audience would as well. Either way, in Scandinavian tradition, the Danish representatives rap in their native language as well as in English. Together with rapper Simon Red DJ Devious forms Non Prævention. Their "Rød Aalborg" tops off symphonic soul with a scratched hook whose sources (Esoteric, Masta Ace, Lord Finesse, Big L, Royce Da 5'9", O.C., Guru) reflect Devious' preferences. PTA's "Lidt Dummere" and Fiske's "FishIll," both in Danish, fall under the 2-minute mark. Equally short but in English are Fred Nukes' "The Love" and Substance's "32 Bars," during which the rapper displays a remarkable rhyming talent:

"Think you're iller than I, dog, you livin' a lie
When my killers collide all of y'all is livin' to die
Pitiful guys, I cut your click to minimum size
I'm like hell burstin' out in a vivid disguise
Yo, you willin' to try and test someone as gritty as mine
with them typical rhymes that you spit a million times?
Man, y'all killin' my high..."

Maybe he should look into a career overseas, because by his own admission "ain't no money in this rap game in Denmark, son." While a rapper like Substance may be ready to be globally deployable, the question remains why he has to sound like a native New Yorker (unless he happens to be one). What is more important to hip-hop heads, skills or originality? In my opinion you have to be highly skilled to compensate for a lack of originality, and if you're barely average like J-Spliff and John B ("Streetammo"), you might be better off getting re-acquainted with your first language, and that's a fact no amount of multisyllabic rhymes can obscure. That aside, "The Double Deez Tape Vol. 1" cruises smoothly without experiencing major bumps, proving once again that rap is truly a universal tongue, no matter what exact language is used.

Music Vibes: 7 of 10 Lyric Vibes: 7 of 10 TOTAL Vibes: 7 of 10

Originally posted: May 17, 2005