Double A.B. & Dub Sonata :: Media Shower :: Man Bites Dog Records
as reviewed by Steve 'Flash' Juon

[Media Shower] Normally artists don't put diatribes on the artwork of their actual compact disc, but since Double A.B. & Dub Sonata actually took the time (and found the small font size) to fit one in I've opted to share it with you the reader.

"It seems every time we race out to purchase the newest high-tech gadget we discover it's been outdated by a newer model by the time we get the packaging off. The way we interact with these new forms of media is constantly reshaping our social landscape. The youth in particular have been the first to latch onto each newest techno-craze; sharing music, pictures and ideas at the swipe of a touch screen. The availability of entertainment is limitless - no more are you locked in your den absorbing flashing pictures from your TV screen; now the screen travels with you, ensuring that you are never more than a reach in the pocket away from high-tech hypnotic wonders soothingly melting your brain into a content-hungry media consumer state. What's next? Will human biology be merged with technology, further blurring the line between man and machine? Only time will tell. Until then... pop this CD into your computer, rip up the useless packaging, plug IN and zone OUT... to the Media Shower."

I'm left ambivalent by this statement because in some ways I find it to be incredibly Luddite, and in others I completely relate to the sentiment. Denying the progress of technology is absurd unless you choose to completely isolate yourself in an Amish community or a log cabin up in the mountains. Whether or not you like how interconnected to the internet we all are now, it's a 21st century reality we all have to accept. The manifesto on this disc suggests this is somehow inherently evil using buzzwords like "techno-craze" and "hypnotic" to suggest we've been brainwashed by our cell phones and iPads, leaving us vulnerable to the influence of an omnipresent New World Order. I refuse to view technology in such a reactionary way - it made my childhood better, my teenage years tolerable, my college life more exciting and my current adult career possible. On the other hand, I'm just as frustrated as Double A.B. and Dub Sonata by the manufactured and forced obsolence of every new cell phone or game console, a system that requires you to either constantly shell out money or be left behind in a technology ghetto where you can't do live video chat but all of your friends can.

As for the artists themselves, Double A.B. and Dub Sonata have been featured on this website since 2007, individually rather than collectively, and both have earned praise for their work. The former is a Blaze battle competitor who despite the accolades of his peers and numerous websites is far from a household name, and the latter is a producing wunderkind who made one of 2010's most intriguing albums - "Nights In Cuba." Sonata lived up to the album's title, LITERALLY spending his nights in the still Communist (and hard to visit) country so he could capture the authentic Cuban sound in his sampling and recreations. Though it lacked lyrics, the album was unquestionably rap, in that it had the bold vision to mix Cuba's forbidden flavors with Sonata's hip-hop sensibility.

"Media Shower" is well served by having Dub Sonata as the producer, as it gives the album a unified sound and Double A.B. a maestro up to his emcee capabilities to craft his sonic landscape. One can't deny that "Doub' and Dub" has a good ring to it rolling off the tongue either, which makes it a natural from a marketing standpoint. A.B.'s delivery is as deliberate as it is constructed, not in a jarring or stilted way, but in the sense that he's an emcee who chooses his words carefully and wants to make sure you understand his point. He's New York City to the core and reminiscent of scene veterans like C-Rayz Walz and Cormega as a result, though he lacks the distinctive accent of the latter and the over-the-top vocal delivery of the former. That may be the one drawback to Double A.B.'s style - at times he unintentionally comes across like a heavily medicated Large Professor on songs like "Time Is Elastic." Even when he picks up the tempo on "Street Survival" he still has to deal with the fact he'll be compared to his lyrical guests - Evidence, Vast Aire and Vordul Mega.

The plus side of Vast and Vordul on the same track is that they're billed as Cannibal Ox again, and it's a measure of their respect for BOTH Dubs that they also appear on the song "Sunset." That's endemic of the cameos on this album, as Sean Price and Scram Jones are both on the headnodder "Some Bullshit," Roc Marciano rocks "Lord Knows What" and Rhymefest laces the title track. Thankfully with 15 tracks, the majority of which are just the Dubs, you get plenty of time to get familiar with their abilities if you weren't already. Songs like "Drug Wars" are a great showcase for both, as Sonata masterfully weaves together different instruments while A.B. spits some straight truth about the REAL drugs that you don't have to get from the streets:

"The next drug can have you angry or out to brawl
or dancin like an asshole, it's called alcohol
It's cheaper, but stronger than reefer
It'll have your speech slurred and sleepin on street curbs
Weed is a weak herb compared to this drug
In New York, it can't even be served in strip clubs
Only titty clubs with no full nudity
This drug'll mix up the whole community
It's legal to buy but not legal to drive
when you got a legal high off of Seagram's and Sprite
They read you your rights if you can't walk a line straight
But some alcoholics be beatin they wives and straight
raisin the crime rate, the reason that I'm straight
I don't be gettin shakes like a pager that vibrates"

The thought and care that Double A.B. puts into bars like these helps him to reach a higher level than his occasionally monotone flow otherwise would. I can't rule it out entirely because in fairness that's going to hurt him with people who don't want to feel like they're listening to the Ben Stein of hip-hop, but my bigger concern based on the album's artwork was that this album was going to be a preachy anti-technology rant and "Media Shower" is not that despite its provocative introduction. This is an inspired collaborative effort that can only improve if the two continue to work together going forward. If the world turns digital and we're all plugged into cyberspace, you could do worse than having this album be virtuality's soundtrack.

Music Vibes: 8 of 10 Lyric Vibes: 7.5 of 10 TOTAL Vibes: 8 of 10

Originally posted: November 6th, 2012