Deux Process :: In Deux Time :: MMV Urbaniti Productions/Avatar Records
as reviewed by Matt Jost

"Broadcastin' out the home of the Broncos and the Avalanche," Deux Process are confident that "each song shows we have a chance." Like the Procussions before them, they are so bold as to represent CO, or more specifically Colorado Springs, in front of a national audience: "Turn the volume up to 10 and throw caution to the wind / We begin, Colorado keep it rockin' till the end." Appropriately enough, Procussions producer Stro the 89th Key assisted Vise Versa, Chief Nek and DJ Shawn Dub in the creation of their first longplayer, released in January '06.

Residing in Cali for the time being, the trio doesn't view making music as an end in itself, but it strives to mix business and pleasure. As one rapper proclaims on the title track: "What I do for a check I also do for respect." When in the opening "Make it Through" they state that there's "no feeling greater than creating," they reveal that they are probably artists first, business men second. Creation is a collective effort to Deux Process, as the two rappers often speak not just for themselves but for the group. They also keep their listenership in mind when they offer: "Let the music provide an escape for you / we take it to a place that can nobody take it to." On the solo track "The Response," Vise Versa tells of his struggle to find truthful expression, relating the balancing act that being an artist can be: "Whether you come from the sticks or the grittiest blocks / this will not be televised, cut off that idiot box / to watch me rhyme for dollars while I speak for change / in this two-sided game that completes my name."

Deux Process are aware that street culture can be a double-edged sword. As Vise argues on "Paper Trail":

"I'm allergic to earnin' and best friends with spendin'
and havin' dreams of livin' clean and rims that be spinnin'
but I'm shoppin' with my best friend clearance
My enemies are running expenses and then I spend on my appearance
by tryin' to stay unique through boutique couture
dressed in exclusives and sweat suits, complete detour
One minute preachin' freedom like the Zapatistas
next minute breakin' bread with the fashionistas"

With their message that "money can't be the root of all evil" because it's "also a powerful tool you can get ahead with," Deux Process take the common sense approach. "Sons of Liberty," which essentially proposes to rebuild America, shows that common sense doesn't always have to lead to compromise. Here, DP explain why exactly money is such a powerful tool. As Nek raps over the charged rock background provided by Stro: "I observe what it's all about / so I rather rock the charts since my vote don't count / Cause no matter what I say, I can scream and shout / but if your money ain't long you dead wrong and the message ain't gettin' out."

Apart from that, Deux Process abstain from politics. "Revolutionary" strictly deals with their perceived role in the hip-hop game. Despite the fact that this ground has been covered a thousand times, Nek manages to address his concerns in a fresh verbiage:

"Born into a world of disposable, promotable records
I play my role even though it's hard to grow with the pressures
In this rap world we crown kings and claim martyrs
bang streets and then make beats that bang harder
Couple years ago, though, the climate had changed
If one artist sold, more started rhymin' the same
Now the hotter the sound, the more they water it down
It hurts my heart, now it's hard to be a part of it now
Still and all I refuse to stay in the game with hate
I use the music that I make to try to change the fate
for the consumer and anybody else that's willin' to listen
I give a vivid description of how I live in the system
See, the industry's the court that's convicted me guilty
I'm locked up until they deem it fit to appeal me
My circle of friends is now my album of songs
We doin' yard time pushin' weight out on the lawn
The beat and its bars provide the type of prison I'm trapped in
My hopes are the notes that the rhythm is craftin'
Mappin' out this world I knew
And the words I use will be a bird's eye view"

Regarding them banging beats, "In Deux Time" doesn't bang particularly hard. The Process chose to enwrap their album in a specific sound that tends to filter the colors. From the beginning, the oblique rhythm section almost conceals the melodic elements. Not to be mistaken for a flat or lifeless production, "In Deux Time" is just an exceptionally smooth ride, lacking the sonic ups and downs hip-hop fans often expect. On "Compatibility," Vise takes the subdued thump so far that you instinctively move close to the speaker to pick up the melodies faintly fading in and out of the picture. If it weren't for singer Jemond's rich vocals, the song would be a bland affair, especially since neither Vise Versa nor Chief Nek possess strikingly charismatic or colorful voices. Looking at the whole, however, Jay Dee is surely somewhere up there looking benevolently at "In Deux Time." Even though it's generally more straightforward and lacks the jazzy ornamentation of Dilla's work.

Basic on the surface, more complex on the inside is the recipe for most of the beats here. Check "My Star" for a layered track that reveals its complexity not upon first listen. From an overall perspective, you can either look at it as a very focused use of specific bass and drum sets to create an album, or you can label it a limited approach. Either way, the songs whose melodic characteristics are carved out more clearly are more likely to get a reaction, such as Stro's "The Process" with its glitzy keys, the (comparatively) powerful "Sweet Music," or "Take the Dance," which Vise Versa introduces with a drum roll followed by anthemic stabs. And then there's the title track produced by the elusive Thayod Ausar. He digs up a piano loop first appropriated by The 45 King many years ago. The crew automatically sounds more dedicated over the rolling piano, boasting, "Our records are made to be broken / we just came to get this rap game creatively open."

It's hard to find fault with "In Deux Time," but it's also hard to find brilliance. Still, unlike many other newcomers they have a clear identity, both sonically and lyrically. One foot in the '90s, the other in the new millennium, DP manage to be soulful without pouring their hearts out in melodramatic fashion, the music constantly grooves without slapping you with the latest effects the clubs go crazy for. If any reference comes to mind, it would be Dilated Peoples, but even that comparison ultimately won't do Deux Process justice.

Deux Process are one of the countless crews that believe that their time is due, or that at least they'll get theirs in due time. At this point, however, they're still paying dues. Part of which is that their debut dropped to little fanfare. Chief Nek and Vise Versa won't appear in their own shoot 'em up video game anytime soon. But those who can appreciate unpretentious, middle-of-the-road, profanity-free hip-hop from a trio that's "straight t-shirts and tall cans," should give Deux Process that chance referred to at the top of this review. Who knows, maybe down the road the crew will indeed "define a new shine, all in due time."

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

Originally posted: December 19, 2006