CrownsDown & Company completes a trilogy of new releases for Doseone and Jel’s revived rap power-duo, Themselves. What began in early 2009 with theFREEhoudini – the monumental mixtape that reunited a dozen of indie hip-hop’s seminal vocalists – now reaches its apt conclusion as ten gifted producers help reinvent the pair’s recently released CrownsDown LP.
While that album, in part, paid tribute to rap’s golden age icons (Gang Starr, Ultramag, Public Enemy), this companion piece finds artists like Baths, Lazer Sword, Buck 65 and Our Brother The Native seizing upon Themselves’ progressive side to create a document firmly of the future.
The aggressive swagger of the original material courses through CrownsDown & Company, rearing its ugly head early on in Dälek’s remix of “Oversleeping.” The New Jersey crew replaces the song’s hulking boom-bap with industrial dissonance, clearing the way for Buck to swap the electro-thump of “The Mark” for crashing drums and squealing punk guitars. Darker and meaner still is Lazer Sword’s ultra-modern, bass-embraced take on “You Ain’t It.”
Other tracks are instilled with the psychedelic fortitude that informs Dose and Jel’s band Subtle. The men of Notwist appear under the 13 & God guise to create a version of “Daxstrong” that seethes with Krautrock’s groove-steeped experimentalism. Meanwhile, Our Brother turns “Roman Is As Roman Does” into a sun-spoiled stew of piano, horns and odd effects, and L.A. electronicist Baths recasts “Deadcatclear II” as bright, glistening and melodic.
Members of Anticon’s stalwart production team – Alias, Odd Nosdam, Bracken – deliver their trademark treatments as well, bridging Themselves’ well-rooted family tree to the fresh faces gathered here – an affirmation of Dose’s long-held tenet that good music leads to good people.
Fittingly, CrownsDown & Company is capped off with a brand new song, “ANTartica,” that not only pays lyrical tribute to the eight men who moved west to found the label/collective over a decade ago, but to all those “with the fire in their teeth… not keeping quiet.”