With a mission to “bring back soul to hip hop,” Canadian duo Dragon Fli Empire expands on the idea in their latest eight track EP, “Intermission.” A teaser for the upcoming album, “Redefined” expected to drop later this year, “Intermission” gives us a taste of what is to come. The two man crew of Dragon Fli Empire, consisting of emcee Teekay and DJ Cosm, have only grown from their 2002 debut album, “Conquest” and 2004 release of “Invasion” as they have since shared the stage with first-rate artists such as De La Soul, Pete Rock, Del, Mos Def, and the Bay Area’s Crown City Rockers. As DFE strives to maintain the underground standards, their music clearly reflects their beliefs while manifesting the fundamentals of classic, unadulterated hip hop.
As Dragon Fli Empire’s energy permeates throughout “Intermission,” Teekay’s lyricism and DJ Cosm’s scratching abilities re-introduce the classic hip hop sounds that many have forgotten. The EP’s starter, “Hi-Fli,” commences with a sound that is reminiscent of “elevator music” as its melodic beat sets the tone for DJ Cosm’s sudden scratching. The harmonious sounds only add to Teekay’s fierce lyricism as he muses over the long journey that has led them to this point in their music career as he says:
“It’s the Dragon Fli
Through the lows and the highs
You can’t crush us
Trust us people try
I’m about to buzz by
I catch these fools by surprise
Our home is the sky and the music never dies”
Amidst fast drums, hard bass, and cuts from DJ Cosm, “Outside Inn” features Canadian emcee Cadence Weapon and soulful vocals from Lynn Olagundoye. “Outside Inn” exposes the realities of being an outsider while trying to overcome the obstacles that come with it. This funk driven track also features the guitar talents of Kirby Smalls as he finishes off with his own impressive solo towards the end to only flaunt his immense talents.
It is clear that Dragon Fli Empire likes to keep the entertainment factor revolving as reflected by “CGY” that pays homage to their hometown of Calgary. Canadian producer/DJ Nato who I previously reviewed on the album he did with Touch called “Intelligent Design,” makes a cameo appearance as he begins the track in a pilot’s voice as if he were flying to Calgary. As the supposed plane touches down, Teekay begins to break down all there is to Calgary, naming streets and landmarks of the city. It’s clearâ€”Dragon Fli Empire has nothing but love for their city of Calgary.
Nato doesn’t come alone to support his Canadian cohorts as emcee Touch of The Representatives joins Teekay on “Headphones Remix.” Broken up, choppy pianos and DJ Cosm’s cuts saturate the track that emphasizes the love for music as references to EPMD and Ice Cube are made. Teekay and Touch recollect about the past and how headphones were such an integral part in making the first of their music. With references to how big the headphones were, how long the cable was, and the different brands, it definitely takes us back in time.
Moka Only brings his production skills to the EP “Intermission” with his deep synths in “Day Job.” His signature simple style enhances the underlying message of working a 9-5 and the difficulties that come with it. With its reggae infused beats in featured vocals from Black Rose, “Identiteye” explains the importance of retaining an identity as Teekay says:
“The kinks in my hair
Brown skin, brown eyes
The blinks in my stare
This is my identiteye
Love and respect
Forgive and forget
Living for the future my ancestors didn’t get”
Dragon Fli Empire’s EP “Intermission” is just a glimpse into what is in store for us in the upcoming album. Their third full-length album, “Redefine” which will be released later this year will feature additional artists including Masta Ace, Ohmega Watts, Raashan Ahmad. With this in mind, “Intermission” has set the pace for what is soon to be unleashed as we can only anticipate the future sounds coming out of Dragon Fli Empire. Be on the look out… they’ll be back from their intermission soon.