Ohio-born rapper, singer and producer Doseone (real name Adam Drucker) is one of those prolific figures in US alt-hiphop who seemingly never stops moving. While he’s best known to many listeners for co-founding the Anticon label and as a driving force behind groups like Clouddead, Subtle and 13 & God, in recent times he’s been kept busy with his most recent project The Nevermen alongside Mike Patton and TV On The Radio frontman Tunde Adebimpe. This latest collaboration alongside underground rapper Mestizo as A7PHA sees the duo upping the intensity against gritty electronic backdrops that pretty much completely eschew samples, and Doseone certainly brings a harder, darker edge to his signature nasal rapid-fire flow that perfectly suits the dystopian moods being explored on the ten tracks that make up this debut self-titled album.
Opening track and first track ‘No Breaks’ kicks pen the gates with a slide into cold sheeny synths, and crisp, trap-inflected snares, Doseone’s vocals rousing themselves with a growling purr before Mestizo drops straight in, dropping a dense first verse that sets a dark nocturnal lyrical backdrop of prowling through a dense urban setting with menace seemingly looming on every street corner, Doseone’s “surrounded by nothing but knife” lyric perfectly capturing the sense of mounting paranoia. From there, ‘Sicked’ turns the tension levels up even further as dark distorted bass drops and skeletal beats prowl against eerily pretty cold synths the MCs’ increasingly dense flow, Doseone’s vocals taking on a poisoned-sounding tone as his treated high-pitched cadences get increasingly strangled and abraded.
Elsewhere, ‘Modern Animal’ sees the industrial edges shifting to the forefront, Doseone’s vocals taking on a feral edge as distorted sub-bass lurks against clattering handclaps and dark, subaquatic synths, his and Mestizo’s lyrics interwining into a dense core as the toxic electronics howl and lurch beneath, before ‘Kingdom’ takes things out with a ominous wander through crunching boom-bap rhythms and eerie cycling synth arpeggios that call to mind Goblin, Doseone’s “I got 99 problems, but my corpse got none” lyrical hi-jacking offering a glimpse of levity amidst the Stygian depths. There’s a good comparison to be made here with El-P and Killer Mike’s recent renaissance as Run The Jewels, and this album certainly takes no shit. Either way, it sees Doseone and Mestizo hardening their edges, to consistently spectacular and inspired effect.