Deep Puddle Dynamics, The Taste of Rain…Why Kneel (1999)
Over the past few months, the Oakland-based Anticon crew have earned glowing profiles in Spin, the Village Voice, and other mainstream publications, and are poised to become the next “healthy alternative” to the “decadent, thugged-out rap scene.” But such generalizations does their music a disservice, and glosses over their noted influences, significantly Ultramagnetic MC’s, Freestyle Fellowship, the Project Blowed camp, and Living Legends. Deep Puddle Dynamics – which includes Anticon members Sole, Dose One, and Alias as well as Slug from Atmosphere and various producers – seek to use the hip-hop medium as a tool for private discourse rather than as an end unto itself. “What is the meaning of life?” they ask on “June 26, 1998,” the centerpiece of The Taste of Rain…Why Kneel. Like a hip-hop version of the Smiths, minus the mournful sense of regret, Deep Puddle Dynamics apply a literary sensibility to thoughtful, incisive tracks. “In the immortal words of Oliver Wendell Holmes/A mind that is stretched to a new idea/Never returns to its original dimension,” raps Dose on “The Scarecrow Speaks.” Their backing music – loops of heavy strings orchestrated by Jel, Abilities, Mayo, Alias, Moodswing9, and Atmosphere producer Ant – gives The Taste of Rain…Why Kneel a leisurely quality, while interspersing enough drums to keep it raw. Their voices can be difficult to distinguish at times – save for Sole, who speaks in a distinctive, raspy drawl – but the flows are unique and esoteric. Ironically, the lead single, “I Am Hip-Hop (Move the Crowd),” is one of the album’s weaker tracks; better examples of their prowess are “Thought vs. Action” and “Heavy Ceiling,” where the group blends battle raps with musings on the vagaries of this mortal coil. If the RZA had followed through on his promise to make classical rap, it may have turned out something like this.