You may not need the background on who Deacon The Villain is if you’re an avid reader of RR, but JUST IN CASE here’s a short (and I do mean abbreviated) bio. Deacon hails from the CunninLynguists, a rap trio linking Georgia and Kentucky together, but one which has always unapologetically been “Southernunderground” in their approach to hip-hop’s musical arts. Deacon has been a member since the group’s inception along with Kno, while current member Natti joined in 2006. Both Kno and Deacon are deft producers as well as emcees, which has resulted in them quietly amassing a massive catalogue of brilliant albums, while simultaneously remaining almost entirely obscure to the mainstream. It is often stupifying to me how brilliant the CunninLynguists are and how little recognition they get for it.

Producing definitely pays the bills when albums that should have gone double platinums sell more like double wood though. That’s not to say the CunninLynguists don’t eat well off their rap – in fact being independent they probably get a better cut than artists who are supposedly “living fat” on major labels yet have to rent Bentleys for their music videos. Being a dual-threat is never a bad idea though, and as Deacon was readying his solo album “Peace or Power,” he decided to celebrate that versatility with the free release of “Instrumentals One.” In his own words this album “features instrumentals from Natti’s Still Motion, Niggaz With Latitude, JustMe, PackFM & The Remnant as well as an original sung intro and two unreleased instrumentals!!!”

To say this album is an enjoyable listen would be like saying a piece of Dove dark chocolate is “aight.” No my friend – it’s much more seductive and delicious than “aight” could ever convey. Take PackFM’s “Plucking Daisies” for example. PackFM is underrated and overlooked in his own right – almost criminally so – and that’s something I need to work on once the site relaunches. That’s neither here nor there though. I’ve gained a whole new appreciation for this song listening to it stripped down to Deacon’s beat. The warbling horn sounds like it was sampled from a turntable that barely had enough power to rotate the record, or a need that was worn down to the nub, or both. If that’s an engineered effect it’s genius, and if it’s an accidental effect of the loop, it’s looped in an ingenious way. Either way it gives me a smile like a shot of Maker’s Mark – a smooth buzz that goes straight to the dome. Deac’ keeps freaking it – fading it in and out, chopping it up into bits, switching sides, letting the drums and hi-hats overpower it then bringing it back at full blast. It’s artful in a way that was almost impossible to appreciate while paying attention to PackFM’s romantic raps.

The same can be said for virtually anything found in the all-too-brief 39 minute span of “Instrumentals One.” Even familiar breaks are used in altogether new ways. I could devote a whole editorial to songs that have borrowed from Kid Dynamite’s “Uphill Peace of Mind,” but what Deacon does to it on “Satellites” makes it sound like the record is coming at you from twenty thousand leagues beneath the sea. Deac can’t settle for just taking something and setting it on repeat – he’s layering things up, throwing new things on top, and twisting things all around until they take entirely new shapes that didn’t seem to previously exist before the twist.

Download “Instrumentals One” and put it on play, then sit back and let your mind drift. Eventually you’ll start to feel disconnected from your body, carried along by strumming guitars on “I Know,” buoyed by the jazzy funk of “Ascension,” and pushed to the surface of your mind by the electric “Pusherman.” It’s odd really. Clearly these songs are meant to be rapped over – and at the same time they’re not. If you’re a newcomer to CunninLynguists at this point though, “Instrumentals One” will give you a little insight into why this is a group of greatness, considering how great one third alone is right here.

Deacon The Villain :: Instrumentals One
8.5Overall Score