After I discovered Dewey Decibel with the tracks Met Her in L.A. and Hello Hello, I have to admit I was quite curious about this mixtape but didn’t really know what to expect, apart from a constantly crazy flow and witty wordplay, which seem to be some of the MC’s trademarks.
It turns out I was not disappointed as #BOOMBOXBOOKWORM is a way for him to showcase his lyrical and technical skills. Nevertheless, despite this curiosity and interest in Dewey Decibel’s talent, I was slightly taken aback after the first listen and didn’t really know what to make of the project. I persevered though and listened to it again, and again, and again. To my surprise, the mixtape really grew on me and I greatly appreciate it now. It may not be for everyone but if your ears and mind are open enough, you will most probably enjoy it as well, for its eclecticism, innovative approach and Dewey Decibel’s undeniable talent.
As many MCs release mixtapes these days that almost sound like albums or showcase exclusive production and thoroughly developed concepts, Dewey Decibel goes back to the basics and provides the listener with what a mixtape sounded like when it was created, that is an MC rapping over production borrowed from a producer they admire and showcasing their technical and lyrical skills. Also, there are some tracks so short they could have been called interludes and sometimes no real structure, which is a way to get familiar with Dewey Decibel’s style and musical universe, while being frustrated enough to want more. Another element is how easily the tracks flow and almost blend, making the whole experience like a 34-minute non-stop journey into the MC’s mind.
As mentioned before, his seamless, seemingly effortless flow and witty wordplay are most enjoyable and overwhelmingly present on #BOOMBOXBOOKWORM, to the point where meaning can almost sound secondary on certain tracks and you just find yourself nodding your head, amazed at his lyrical dexterity. Some of the best examples would be the very short but highly compelling Disappear or the could-have-been introduction, Hello Hello, which is basically Dewey Decibel presenting himself to the world.
While it’s clearly hip-hop orientated, #BOOMBOXBOOKWORM is very eclectic and leans towards the experimental tip at times, thanks to the amazing production courtesy of Eligh of Living Legends. From crazy, fast-paced, head-nodding beats to spacey, futuristic or more chilled and soulful ones, we explore a wide range of atmospheres and musical influences, which can make the mixtape sound all over the place at first but turns it into a beautiful melting pot once you’re used to it and have immersed yourself into it. The sonic pattern is like a blank canvas or an empty playground, where Dewey Decibel is free to create and have fun with it. The faster the beat, the most impressive his delivery and that’s definitely very enjoyable to listen to and nod your head to. From the slow paced, almost lazy The City to the dancefloor-friendly Met Her in L.A. or insane Psychedelic Swagger, we keep switching gears with what sounds like a ride on a musical highway. One of the most original tracks and among my favourites, the beautiful and utterly mesmerising Gutter Rainbow infuses the mixtape with a dose of Oriental vibes and will probably haunt you long after you’re done listening to it.
When it comes to the topics Dewey Decibel touches upon, there is once again some variety and he is going from the most seemingly superficial and lighter themes to more personal, deeper and spiritual lyrics, which matches the evolution from futuristic, electro and fast-paced instrumentals to more relaxing, soothing and reflective ones. The second half of the mixtape contains most of those more intimate tracks and I find that it is quite an interesting and appropriate journey, like a night out followed by a chilled period when you’re back at home and wind down, slowly regaining a sense of peace and letting go of the excitation you stocked upon for hours. The most noticeable transition is when the MC deals with women, first on an apparent superficial level with the recounting of a lust story in Met Her in L.A. and then sliding towards the honesty and heartfelt lyrics of the beautiful Under the Spell. The latter is probably the track that touched me the most in #BOOMBOXBOOKWORM and is the one I can most relate to. With How To Live, we enter a more spiritual dimension with a questioning on the sense of life and an interesting statement: “I know how to die cos I know how to live”.
As the title only partly suggests, #BOOMBOXBOOKWORM is an exploration of Dewey Decibel’s mind and musical universe, an introduction to his art and invitation to stay tuned for more.
As I explained in the introduction, this mixtape was a grower for me but after listening to it so many times today I have to admit I am somehow addicted and will definitely put it in regular rotation. It is a melting-pot of moods, influences and topics, it is compelling and mesmerising, it will simply not leave you unmoved. The combination of Eligh’s instrumentals and Dewey’s flow and lyrics works perfectly well, almost as if they had actually worked on the project together. Clearly, #BOOMBOXBOOKWORM is one of the most creative and innovative mixtapes I’ve heard lately and Dewey Decibel is one MC you should definitely keep an eye on.