ONEDERFUL by DJ Rude One
Genre: East Coast Hip Hop
Favorite Tracks: “1,000 Dutches,” “Tyrannosaurus eX,” “Andre Drummond”
East Coast rap is instantly recognizable by its grit, streetwise lyrics, and ‘90s stoop aesthetic, and while the sound has been missing from the mainstream for some time, DJ Rude One’s ONEDERFUL is something fans of that sound can get excited about. Based in Brooklyn, DJ Rude One is at the heart of where the album’s sound was born decades ago. The beats are punchy and bold, and the rap is undeniably New York from start to finish. Rude One’s production serves as a satisfying modern take on the Brooklyn-born hip hop instrumental, complete with a roster of fresh voices and talent rapping over it.
DJ Rude One’s production is focused and hard, proving to be a great basis for the rappers who appear on the LP to explore dense themes and flex their lyrical muscles. On “1,000 Dutches,” Shirt raps “I’m not this cool ass rapper out here makin’ mad dough / I’m doin it for the art I just wanted to show,” reinforcing the idea of ONEDERFUL as being a passionate ode to classic East Coast rap, as opposed to an attempt to craft a radio-friendly record. Each track is unique, but complements the others, from the laid back piano-based sample of “Street Scenes,” to the lyrically bold and synth based “Tyrannosaurus eX.”
While the production alone is a key factor of ONEDERFUL’s dynamic as a beat-based LP, the album’s rap also shines with authenticity, placing it leagues above much of its hip hop peers. The rappers take a lyrically dense approach over the beats, telling vivid stories as opposed to singing catchy hooks, adding to the darkness and bare knuckle feel of the LP. Thematically, the album speaks on murder, drugs, and other rebellious street activities, which can oftentimes be hard to pull off with the same type of style as the emcees of the ‘90s. The hard-hitting, in your face punchiness of boom bap has not been a prominent sound in recent years, making ONEDERFUL quite a unique and distinct work in the current context of rap music. Though difficult to execute, DJ Rude One and his lineup of rappers deliver something that parallels the hip hop it pays homage to.
ONEDERFULs specific vision and tone is its greatest asset, but also likely the reason it will not see commercial success. There is nothing friendly, inviting, or warm about it, aside from the tinges of rap nostalgia. Violence is embedded within hip hop culture, and ONEDERFUL is certainly no exception. It’s brutal, both in the subjects it tackles and how it chooses to tackle them, with songs like “Cop Hell 2016” expressing very strong and vivid anti-police ideas on the album’s closing track. Such is a reinforcement of the passion each rapper comes with, as ONEDERFUL never feels like it’s lacking something to say.
ONEDERFUL comes to us at a time where hip hop is generally missing the sounds of the mid ‘90s, while other New York based rap acts such as A$AP Rocky and the Flatbush Zombies experiment with music that is less traditionally New York influenced. On ONEDERFUL, DJ Rude One encapsulates a style of hip hop that’s been living underground for years — a style that has influenced modern rappers like Wiki and Joey Bada$$, and will continue to influence rap for some time to come. ONEDERFUL is a strong release in underground hip hop, combining cohesive and stylized production with an ensemble of rappers. Fans of hip hop should give this record a listen, for a look at how an iconic style continues to develop underground decades after it’s conception.