Back into the fifth dimension: After Five Deez set HipHop standards with "Koolmotor" in 2001, Fat Jon and Pase Rock’s crew now follow up the debut album and the Japan-only release "Slow Children Playing" (2002): "Kinkynasti" is an impressive declaration of stylistic openness and the joy of musical experimentation.
1999, Cincinnati, Ohio (USA). Producer/MCs Fat Jon (the Ample Soul Physician) and Pase Rock instantaneously raise Rap’s measuring stick by 12 inches with "Blue Light Special" EP. Just a little later, they leap right over it. Together with their buddies Sonic and Kyle David, with whom they are associated through the Wanna Battle Crew (which also boasts the membership of DJ Hi-Tek, Talib Kweli, Rubix and the Lone Catalysts), they really get the rhyme machine rolling with "Koolmotor". Phat bouncing basslines, meticulously timed beats – it’s got all that. But Five Deez can do so much more. Highly musically inspired, they develop markedly innovative rhyming techniques. Seemingly arbitrary phrases are first rapped from top to bottom, then from bottom to top and finally from side to side. Stream of consciousness goes HipHop.
At lot has happened since then: Five Deez played gigs everywhere from the States to Japan. Tortoise remixed the track "Sexual Elisabeth", one of the high points of the debut album. And because Fat Jon has lived and worked in Berlin for a while now (e.g. as DJ at "Watergate"), he used the opportunity to speak to Stefan Betke, alias Pole, the hard minimalist laptop dub protagonist and help him to achieve an unusual eloquence. He took the mic himself for five of the tracks on Pole’s disc to be released in July and is touring with him through the USA, Canada, Europe and Japan this summer.
And now the "Four Black Dudes" are turning Cincinnati into "Kinkynasti". Staying true to yourself is one thing, not standing still while doing so is another. Five Deez have – predictably – chosen the latter. They nonchalantly blend classical HipHop elements with band music, (big band) jazz and electronica. The opener, "A Wonderful Place", already puts you off the scent and shows how unpredictable the Five Deez are: a reverberated piano jangles along eerily to itself – the following title track straightens the picture again and shows where the flow goes with wonderfully eccentric harmonized soul horns.
Five Deez set off on a musical journey along the path of street soul, but they never forget to look over their shoulders – not even on the straight uptight party numbers. The chill out, too, every now and again casually slipping into an ambient mood. The two instrumentals, "The Ocean" and "The Rain", bring to life a thematically closed atmospheric cosmos. Even in their most ethereal moments, though, the Cincinnati crew remain organically and typically down to earth.
The range of sounds on "Kinkynasti" is clearly focused, but bitingly sharp around the edges at the same time. Wanna Battle Crew are neither here nor there – Five Deez satisfyingly refrain from skillz-based fisticuffs. Their raps aren’t concerned with the tiresome "Higher, Faster, Further". The vibe is the difference. The lyrics are never short on clear statements, but Five Deez still allow themselves the luxury, from time to time, of having nothing more than the next block party in their sights.
"Everybody has been expecting us to quit", it goes at one point – more than a little coquettish, but it’s nothing more than a barefaced lie. The truth nevertheless follows on its heels: "Ha!" WE ROCK ON.