Ride the Monaurail
Travelling at the speed of thought
Five Deez - "When the Silence is Gone" (mp3)
If we consider 'future funk' this week's quasi-theme, then Five Deez represents a traditional vision of it. The Cincinnati quartet have claimed mostly backpacker and deep music club status by updating past visions of the tomorrow. Meaning, they are doing the new hip-house. And I'm not talking about the current Jungle Brothers and their return to the dance circuit -- they've been more on the big beat, borderline Fatboy Slim end of things. Instead, consider Five Deez the sophisticated, progressive tech heads: lots of filters, washes, echoes and delicate attention to drum tones.
Peep the track in question: standard fare as the group creates movements within the composition, introducing both melody and rhythm as if they were echoes from a distant past, using a verse to bridge these two components to the future, then driving forward with a familiar, up tempo, on the and-of-two and and-of-four beat. Where Dilla and Spacek conjured ideas of the future, blurring rhythm and tone to create pura bossa nova, Deez dwell in its familiar notions: space travel, stars and Star Trek. This is the future that we expect, that is tangible and understandable versus the future that could be, that truly represents the unknown.
Personally, I don't have a preference. There's a place for both. Granted, Dilla's work is exciting to me for being so out there. Yet, Fat Jon of Five Deez has a terrific ear and crafts some of the most understated hip-hop pieces unknown to most. Except the Germans. Damn.
PS - My obit to Dilla is up on PopMatters.