Territory ex-pats DeadBeats have released their magnum opus ‘Vivid Pictures‘ and boy-oh-boy have they nailed it. DeadBeats is a collab made up of Dan the Underdog & Threat3, both hip hop veterans who have staked their claim well and truly over the years but, with this work, they have reached new heights and set a bar for others to aspire to. The name ‘DeadBeats’ is synonymous with them ‘murdering instrumentals’. ‘Vivid Pictures‘ is murder in the first degree without the possibility of parole – once you’re in, you’re in – what sweet aural punishment this LP is.
Dan the Underdog grew up in Buffalo NY so he brings his New York flavour to the table, while Threat3 lets his Northern Territory roots shine. They met in Darwin, NT in 2005 and worked together in various crews including NT super-group Northern Versifiers Firm (NVF). They moved to Queensland in 2018 and dropped their debut self-titled album while coming up through the local battle scene. They spent the year slowly touring the country, booking shows and battles all over Australia, honing their craft.
2020 was looking like a big year for DeadBeats with an international tour booked, but of course COVID-19 scuppered their plans for world domination. ‘Vivid Pictures‘ is going to be a sik album to tour on once the barriers come down, and with a roll-call of contributors like this, you just know to expect quality before you even hear it:
According to their presser, DeadBeats ‘is about dope beats, intricate flows, and a crazy live show…real Hip Hop.’ Having had the chance to see these two live in Darwin with NVF on several occasions, we can vouch. That flow though. You gotta keep up or you’ll get lost in all that dopeness, intricacy and craziness that they claim. They ain’t lyin’.
Let’s get to some of these tracks. We are not going to pull apart all 18 of them – they are all top-shelf hip hop. What flows through them though is the unmistakable New York State accent of Dan The Underdog (along with a couple of other US rappers) juxtaposing with the Aussie twang of the local artists – this gives the work a wonderful texture and an international feel. Aussie hip hop is unique but this aspect widens the appeal and also proves just how universal hip hop is, and how hip hop can bridge cultural divides and bring people together. Hip hop is the Babel fish of music – it speaks to all languages.
Track 2 ‘Ride‘ (ft. Emperor Krow and Alice Springs legend Hugh Winterflood) is a standout. A simple but heavy see-saw bass line sits comfortably under the rhymes like walking in a pair of your favourite shoes. The phrasing in the verses land sharply on the kick and snare and, along with the bass, make you sway before you realise it. This is the sort of track that will have you moving and singing along while sitting in your car at traffic lights while people stare at you. Give zero fucks if this happens to you.
‘Bussalung‘ (ft. Zom B. Prepper) machine-guns over low-key beats (language warning) – run to catch up with this one. ‘Heavy Hittaz‘ (ft. Kaotik and Afterthought) puts out plenty of drama with an ominous score. ‘Underboss‘ (“you better recognise a boss when you see a boss | never underestimate the drive of an Underdog”) gives Dan The Underdog a chance to get his menace on with his good friend Kulu.
The title track ‘Vivid Pictures‘ (ft. a brooding Conway the Machine) has Dan claiming his hood in Buffalo NY (“miss that grimy shit | miss that gritty shit | miss that hood shit, straight Buffalo City shit | from my neighbourhood to yours, fuckin’ represent | paint a picture for these mo’fuckers, let it live”). This is grimy and gritty street stuff in the first person. Also from Buffalo NY, Conway has the rap sheet and the bullet wounds to establish his cred, having weaned away from the gangsta life after being shot in the head and neck in 2012, resulting in facial paralysis he has worked hard to overcome with his vocals. This track is all hood, all the time, bringing the real deal south of the Equator. Likewise, ‘Feet In Front‘ (ft. 7xvethegenius) is also pretty gritty hood stuff, and it’s good to hear a female voice in this LP.
The album is not all hood-bound though. ‘Chasin the Sun‘ has all the feels of a sunny Sunday afternoon with that Special Someone, all very chill and full of hope. The lightly skanking Sticky Fingers-ish guitar in the background gives the track a dreamy feel that works well as a foil to the intensity of some of the other tracks on this album.
We could go on. But we won’t. Listen to it yerselves and we won’t have to. Check out ‘Vivid Pictures‘ here: https://open.spotify.com/album/6TwdCpp6n05bqAahvdkrpV
and on all the usual streaming services – or just click here to go to the website: https://dantheunderdog.com/music