Orange County, New York hip hop duo The Dopplegangaz have been active since around 2008, but it wasn’t until the crisp and gritty beats and rhymes of 2011’s Lone Sharks that, as Matter Ov Fact so eloquently puts it, the outfit went “balls deep”. Now the pair return with what’s set to be their most commercially successful release yet – Peace Kehd.
Since the middle to late 2000’s, US hip-hop has faced a fork in the road. The genre, – without doubt one of the most important and controversy laden styles of music in history – has been used for dance, political protest, gang rivalry and ego boosting, remaining consistently one of the most listened to mediums worldwide. However, two distinct camps have emerged – the guys who long for it to be 1993 all over again, and the ones with their fingers glued to the high hat key in Fruity Loops. Yet recently it seems the prongs of this fork may be edging nearer to each other again, with acts like Action Bronson, Joey Bada$$ and the focus of the piece – The Dopplegangaz – ever more enjoying the glow of not just critical, but commercial success.
The Dopplegangaz could play an important part in this remerging of schools, and as one crowd is screaming “we keep it real” and the other “cash money”, their latest release marries these two estranged halves of the same whole.
Following the kicked back Doom-esque “Intro”, which formulates a style for the majority of the album, “Holla x2” surfaces. The production here has that grainy vinyl crackle that makes any beat jump out of the headphones and the lyrics are on point; opening – “He waking up to dark liquor throw some cola in it/And some Chobani yogurt throw granola in it/Hit the road it’s like he got to pay a toll a minute/Look inside the wallet ain’t no Gorgonzola in it”.
“Shit Rock” follows with its future-hop layered production full of clicks, reverb drenched synths, echoes and hints of an Arabian styled guitar snippets and the marrying of Matter Ov Fact and EP’s grizzled and lackadaisical vocal style.
But it’s on “KnowntchooTahLie” that things become a little more interesting. This is where the forks begin to yield towards each other as the expectantly old school record shows hints of the new. All you have to do is listen to the production and sung hook to hear shades of the normally shunned (particularly on the East Coast) south side style of commercially successful hip-hop. But yet, its different flavour seems to work just fine, making it a highlight of the record.
“$ In Da Air” and “Live Rugged” are personal favourites which bring us right back to those aforementioned crackles and nostalgia. As the album goes on the duo’s appreciation for change is further exhibited as “Come Down Awn Eht” ‘tit-tats” along with the sounds of a thousand tiny hi-hats.
When all is said and done, Peace Kehd is still very much centred around trademark East Coast production. However, it does show flickers of the often condemned new school of thought, which is bound to get it some deprecation from someone. Many hip hop fans may be quite happy with being stuck in the 90s, but it’s encouraging to see a group trying to merge the successes of that time with something fresher once more.