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Tuesday, January 26, 2010
The 3 Titans, Khalil Jackson, Jorden Plaines, and Dallas Ifill, are rhythmically gifted fifth-graders with their sights set on higher education. On their debut 7” for Daptone affiliate Dunham Records, “C-O-L-L-E-G-E” b/w “Life of a Scholar" (out Feb 16), the precocious eleven-year-olds trade rhymes about the benefits of going to college and the determination it takes to get there over two sides of old-school, hard-as-nails (and refreshingly sample-free) beats provided by the notorious Menahan Street Band (also known for their work with soul singers Charles Bradley and Lee Fields, as well as providing the sample for Jay-Z's 2007 hit, "Roc Boys").
The hooks are contagious hand-thrower-uppers, the breaks are spine-cracking head-bobbers (ala Brand Nubian and Pete Rock), and the raps are executed with a cool almost lackadaisical simplicity that evokes the playful cadences of early hip-hop, before rhymes and rhythms became overshadowed by egos and jewelry. The often imitated, never replicated, drums of Homer Steinweiss lay a solid bottom on the track, over which the young Titans play off of each other with ease, each threading their verses masterfully between the others’ and leaning into their individual styles with a natural confidence and lyricism that makes their lessons easy to memorize. It’s a message. It’s a groove. It’s a motherfucker. It’s the 3 Titans.
From the get go, the backing music—written, arranged and performed by the label’s resident house musicians, the Menahan Street Band, as well as folks behind such acclaimed acts as Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings, Antibalas and Amy Winehouse—clicked as quickly for the adults as the message and rhymes did for the kids, and the new 45 marks a first on many fronts for the burgeoning Dunham family. Having outgrown the original converted bedroom/recording studio in co-founder Tom Brenneck’s Bushwick, Brooklyn apartment, the record label moved last year to more spacious Williamsburg quarters where Brenneck and label co-founder/drummer/producer Homer Steinweiss were able to realize a lifelong dream of building their own recording studio from scratch. The precocious efforts of the 3 Titans are the first recordings from the newly minted studio to be made available for the listening public’s pleasure. And certainly not the last.
Posted by kevchino at 9:43 AM