Themselves are an alternative hip-hop duo consisting of emcee Adam Drucker aka Doseone, and all around musical instrumentalist Dax Pierson. In assembling these dynamic individuals, indie record label Anticon has single-handedly changed the face and sound of underground hip-hop by merging these two unstable forces of nature in a conjoined unit of explosive capacity. After banding together in 1998, and hoisting their first piece of harmonic dynamite of a debut album, titled simply “Them” in 2000, Themselves have been mesmerizing audiences of any and every scene. With their aberrant style of blended electronic sound and ambient beats, along with Doseone’s distinctive lyrical tone and abstract imagery constructing the personality of this alluringly complex unit, Themselves strikes the masses time after time with a breed of music that perhaps not many can clearly discern, but all can collectively appreciate.
Their latest album CrownsDown erects itself as a testament to what is enticing about all that is bizarre and abstract. With numerous kicks of up tempo beats, outer space-esque key work atop tongue twisting raps, Themselves let listeners know from the fast paced opening melody of the first song “Back II Burn” that this is not your typical electronica/hip-hop album. What follows are 10 tracks that mimic each other only in the breadth that they all hold nothing back in execution or artistic aptitude. Opening track “Back II Burn” , a fast paced beat reliant hip hop anthem equip with even swifter lyrics pulls no punches in letting listeners know precisely who and how skilled their members are. The accompanying track “Oversleeping” allows listeners to briefly catch their breath and try acclimating to Doseone’s breakneck manner of rapping, slinging fleets of abstract word play and imagery into your cerebrum in rapid succession.
Later tracks such as “Daxstrong” on the other end allows Pierson to showcase more of his less conventional music skills, adding a strange array of accents reminiscent (to this writer) to a kind of carnival theme in the opening attunement, with a slower beat and key change. Not being shy of wanting to use every musical implement in their arsenal, the duo goes on to even add a tad of auto-tune and distortion alongside classic drum machine beats in later tracks such as “You Ain’t It” and a masterful bit of turntable work in “Skinning the Drum”.
All in all Themselves’ CrownsDown proves itself to be a highly refined work of musical artistry to those who are at all seasoned in the unconventional. Dose’s unorthodox vocal style and word usage never seems to waver or distract from Pierson’s all encompassing mass of layered instrumentals. Together they merge flawlessly to form an entirely new sound that anyone who appreciates clever beats, deviceful uses of sound deviating from the norm, and thought provoking lyrics that you’re not liable to hear from many emcees. Doseone, Dax Pierson, Themselves, and their wide ensemble of other musical outlets come highly recommended to anyone in search of something provocatively strange to add to their musical plethora.
Bottom line: take a listen.