Five Deez Kommunicator

[Rapster; 2006]

Styles: hip-hop, underground rap, prog-hop
Others: Jurassic 5, Jungle Brothers, Dan the Automator

Are you ready for something both rough and smooth? Something both dirty and pristine?

Easily one of the most underrecognized rap crews today, Five Deez are on a mission to reach all intelligent life in the universe with their message with Kommunicator. The title track makes the galactic scope of their music clear. A jazzy bit of piano and upright bass gets broken up by some intense panting and a stuttering drum beat. Squiggling synths are layered over the top, and by the time the rhymes hit, the mix is supplemented with steady hand claps. While such disparate elements may make a disjointed mess in the hands of less skilled producers, Fat Jon's skills hold these pieces together and give the track an infectious and irrepressible energy.

And really, the production is what this crew is all about. While the MCs are more than competent, they are integrated like any other instrument into the mix. Even a track like "Fugg That," which features a repeated chorus hook that would dominate on most any other rap record, gives equal attention to its deft drum programming and synth bed. This is not a detriment. This is evolution. Fat Jon is a hip-hop talent with an ear in league with DJ Shadow or Dan the Automator. "Fifth Degree" makes this clear as a standout instrumental track best described as progressive and ethereal.

However, if this crew does have an obstacle to overcome it is in the conditioning of most hip-hop listeners to expect recognizable antics and personalities from their favorite MCs. With the subtler palette of textures working on Kommunicator, it will take open-minded fans to appreciate the wealth of music it holds. For those who care to understand it, this album is a blessing.

1. Kommunicator
2. Fugg That
3. Let the People Know
4. Black Rushmore
5. When the Silence Is Gone
6. So Good
7. Fifth Degree
8. BMW
9. From Sorrow
10. Sapphire
11. The Last Time

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