Monday, December 19, 2011

Review: Profesa' Dibbs



Hip hop, as a genre, it seems, has done nothing of late but slowly and deliberately collapse under the dead weight of its own provocative and iterative tendencies. Ten years ago, it was new and threatening. Today, it is comical at best, but more often than not, sadly pathetic. What was once a sharpened edge of wit and social commentary is now nothing more than an open forum for the arrogant and the foolish. Case in point: whereas Snoop Dogg once rapped about what it's like to be a gangsta, Jay-Z now raps about what it is like to be a corporate officer, and whereas A Tribe Called Quest once rapped about the struggles inherent to urban black youth, Lil’ Jon now raps about his testicles.

Let’s be realistic. How many times can we hear the same recycled beat and still be excited to hear it? How many times can we hear a man speak passionately and enthusiastically about his generative organs, and the novel ways in which he seeks to employ them upon the opposite sex, and still be shocked? Did we really expect this train to ride on forever?

Sadly enough, it seems like it will. Despite being utter crap, moronic anthems to wanton greed and puerility are still topping the charts. This success, however, runs in much the same vein as the Call of Duty series of video games. It sells more and more copies with each successive – and infinitely less-inspired – sequel because there just isn’t anything else on the market.

Or is there?

Hip hop is a young genre, in the grand scheme of things. It didn’t achieve mainstream popularity until the late eighties and early nineties. Coincidentally, it was right around this time rock music had hit a similar level of stagnation, and those of us with more “refined” tastes were looking towards the emerging genre of alternative rock to save us from the hair-spray chugging metalhead morons who were ruining rock music and destroying the ozone layer at the same time.

Hip hop, I would argue, is at about this point, and I should hope the masked horsemen of underground hip hop should be riding in at any moment to save the day.

Well, maybe not. But there is always Profesa’ Dibbs…

He doesn’t have a ton of money. He doesn’t drive a fancy car. He doesn’t skeet, skeet, skeet. He doesn’t “oooooookay!” or “yeah!”. He doesn’t rap about his label – because he doesn’t have a label. Neither does he have an album, or an EP, or even a single. What he does have, however, is a collection of songs, completely free, for your enjoyment. They can be found here.

Because Profesa’ Dibbs doesn’t charge money for his music, and because I base my reviews largely on the premise music consumption is an expensive pastime, it would be hard for me not to recommend giving Dibbs a listen. In fact, in the absence of cost as a mitigating factor, I cannot think of a single reason why people shouldn’t. What harm could it do?

However, if you require more convincing, please read on.

Profesa’ Dibbs is much like any other underground/old school hip hop act. Grainy, dry beats drive the songs, which are augmented by sampling which, in the scope of the genre, is fairly sparse. What sets Dibbs apart from his peers, however, is copious helpings of (presumably) Dibbs’ own piano and guitar playing. They certainly don’t sound like samples ripped from old James Brown tunes. This is not to say, however, that Profesa’ Dibbs is just another pompous, destined-to-fail crossover act. The instrumentation is deployed in a very hip hop way, so much, in fact, the bluesy guitar bends and jazzy Rhodes chords almost sound sampled.
Dibbs’ lyrical styling is iterative of the underground movement. No bitches or hos here. No crunk or grinding, or booty-shaking permitted. This is adult swim, and the lyrical pool is noticeably uncontaminated with the obstreperous splashing and hawing of puerile children. Dibbs raps about life, about politics, about the metaphysical. While this may seem novel to those accustomed to Lil Wayne’s particular brand of vodka, it will seem wholly unoriginal to those who have already committed themselves to underground rap. His are the words of the rapper/poets, like Saul Williams or Sage Francis, and his words have been spoken, and recorded, before. Still, Profesa’ Dibbs is probably one of the region’s better hip hop acts, especially so when one considers all the Top 40 imitators who plague Hartford like a bad case of the clap.

So, if you’re looking for break from the self-indulgent self-immolation of modern mainstream hip hop – or if you’re just looking for a decent local act – Profesa’ Dibbs is well worth your time, especially when you consider it won’t cost you anything. If you’re an underground veteran, Dibbs won’t offer much in the way of new material or techniques, but he’s a good listen, nonetheless.

2 comments:

j said...

"music journalism"

Mike Milisen said...

Thank you for the beautiful write up. I just released an absolutely Free album on Xmas, please feel free to check it out, its been a long time since I made the tracks on this album. https://profesadibbs.bandcamp.com/album/clever-insane