The Dorian Three Down World, Up Songs

[Childproof; 2004]

Rating: 3.5/5

Styles: underground hip-hop
Others: Glue, Josh Martinez, Vinyl Monkeys

The Dorian Three laid its foundation at Scribble Jam 1998. Like so many other groups, friends, and associates, they were formed thanks to the ultimate social center-point that is Mr. Dibbs. In a tape-traded VHS of Scribble Jam 1999, a wonderful home video shot by DJ Anna that I am lucky enough to possess, shows ADeeM and Adverse freestyling back and forth. They're not on stage and they're not in public -- they're in the confines of some random room. If the chronology of the tape is accurate, they're unwinding after a long day of Scribble festivities. The two young MCs are trading lines with the most quirky and humorous of topic choices. They can hardly control their laughter, and it's quite evident that everyone in the room is having a ball. This scene typifies the essence of The Dorian Three.

With that said, DJ MF Shalem B, ADeeM, and Adverse put in work. They've done their fair share of touring, worked on individual projects, and spread the gospel as best they can. Their first album was appreciated by a rather wide audience, with anthems like "Mr. Bartender" becoming fan favorites. The boys expound on this joyous sentiment on their sophomore release, Down World, Up Songs. These fellas realize that life sucks and it's easy to get pulled down into the ruts of everyday life, but they choose to fend as best they can and express that zestful desire through their music. Backed by Shalem's improved production and scratches, the two vocalists try to stay focused on the brighter side of things. Unfortunately, this fun-loving hip-hop agenda doesn't always run smoothly.

Following Adverse's ridiculously sick first verse on "Wicked Dub," the rapper pals make a turn for the worse on "Knew A...." They decide to personify adjectives and nouns, attempting to craft some clever concept song. The track ends up failing and actually comes off rather pretentious. The woes continue on the next track as well, "Dwellings." This nomadic diatribe covers a tired topic with an unappealing ADeeM-sung chorus. Thankfully, the album returns to its feel-good components after this lull. Shalem's upbeat sample choices and basslines get the mood swinging in the right direction again. That's where The Dorian Three sound most comfortable, and that's also where they should always stay. Spewing off mouth-gaping flows over funk-inspired samples is when they look their best.

1. Don't Tell
2. For You
3. Duty Work
4. Wicker Dub
5. Knew A...
6. Dwellings
7. Well You Are
8. Nightlife
9. Eyes Open
10. Zero Balance
11. Lost Keys
12. Connect Four
13. Week Two