Listening to G is for Deep is a little like spending forty minutes in the company of a hyperactive child. It can be joyous, funny, apt to fill you with a certain sense of wonder – if ultimately somewhat exhausting. The first time I put the record on, I was immediately overwhelmed; thrilled by its hypercolour grooves and rubbery contours, exhilarated by the sheer plenitude of quirks and ideas, but struggling to find a thread I could hang onto and follow through. Towards the end, I was interrupted by the phone ringing and had to turn it off for a bit, and I must admit to being a little bit relieved. Listening again, a little later, on headphones this time, I started to become more immersed in the experience – like riding an elaborate and vertiginous roller coaster, rather than simply looking up its gravity-defying curves and thinking, gosh, how did they ever do that?
For a decade and a half now, rapper, producer, poet, and artist DoseOne (né Adam Drucker) has been carving out a singular place in the world of alternative music. Since beating a then-unknown Eminem in a battle-rhyming competition in 1997, his distinctive Looney Tunes vocals have contributed their peculiar charms to records alongside such notable weirdoes, avant-gardists and post-rockers as Mike Patton, Hood, Push Button Objects, The Notwist, and Alan Moore. The record label, Anticon, that he founded in 1997 with fellow travellers Why?, Odd Nosdam, Jel, Alias, and Pedestrian, has become a byword for the kind of skewed indie hip-hop acceptable to white hipsters. Be that as it may, both solo and individual, the last fifteen years have seen him build up a body of work that fully deserves to be the envy of any of his contemporaries. He can also lay claim to possession of one of the most distinctive voices in modern music.
Early reports had suggested that the characteristic rhythmically complex, nasally-voiced rapping style he made his name with had been put to bed for the time being. But fans need fear not. G is for Deep sees Dose stretching his voice in a hundred different directions, from tender melodic singing to wild man yelling and most things in between, sampling, chopping and multiplying it like a rare groove; but he still finds space to lay down proper MC skills here and there. His rapping was always more melodic than most, and what we find increasingly throughout his work is the disintegration of an always fragile line between spitting rhymes and singing them.
The smorgasbord of beats and sounds here show that DoseOne has learnt something from everyone he’s worked with, and wrenched all these influences towards a Prince/Outkast-esque funk pop that few of his former collaborators would dare. If the pop hooks ultimately remain too fragmentary, scattered across the sonic canvas like flecks of paint from Pollock’s brush, to give Dose a ghost of a chance at the kind of hits that Andre3000 and Big Boi have enjoyed, this kind of schizo-psychedelia will nonetheless find Drucker in good company amongst such overstimulated modern channel-jumpers as Flying Lotus and Hudson Mohawke – wonkily slinging together the sounds of ’80s computer games and several decades of pop history glimpsed through skim-listening YouTube clips, in a machine vision new aesthetic assembled on the hyperscore of a home ProTools rig.