Know Your Product
A new Jade Fox record and a Dirty Marmaduke Flute Squad coda
Published: November 24, 2010
JFK Mixtape Vol. 1: Eternal Flame
Jade Fox’s voice is what separates her from the pack of other local female MCs—not just what she chooses to say, but how she says it. On her second release, following 2007’s Ashes of Another Life, Fox takes the original beat work from a small roster of producers (Dom P, Mac G, Jake Rockwell, Tytanium, Mad Beatz, the Green Team, Mista Haynes, Juice, Rrice [sic] the Golden Grain, Delano Dutch, Unheard of) and works it into just more than an hour’s worth of music. Fox is an agile rapper, able to move at a quick clip, as on the sometimes breathless “Call of Duty,” or almost sing-speak over a slinky reggae beat in “Love Drunk.” At any pace, she enunciates clearly and crisply, a delivery that allows her to masticate musical bits out of phonemes. She turns the sibilants in the second verse of “Love Drunk”—”There’s no way this makes sense/ but if you say it does then I’m easily convinced/ give me goosebumps with just the smallest glimpse”—into seductive exhales, coloring the romantic words with slow-dance intimacy.
It’s a nimble delivery that not only accents her lyrics, but conveys their message with clarity and force. She introduces “State of Emergency” with “Smoke on the water fire in the sky/ Hard just to afford the cost of getting by” and then proceeds to discuss economic disparity over a looped stretch of bowed strings and calm backbeat. Over the echoing, slurred pulse of “No Lie,” she proudly equates her multi-genre approach with her DNA: “So many styles mixed in, like my heritage/ definition of the melting pot, yeah I’m American.”
Fox isn’t all about offering a message, though, as her intelligence can be as witty (the soulful “don’t blow my high” hook anchoring work-week cut “The High”) as it is reflective (the hip-hop mash note “Live and Breathe”). And she’s perfectly happy sharing the microphone, as Eternal Flame has almost as many MC guests as producers. And they occasionally run away with a track: Matthew Edwards and Fresh Competition deliver two verses in the bare-bones beats- and brass-powered “Three the Hard Way.” Eternal Flame is often refreshingly playful, and hip-hop certainly needs to remember not to lose its sense of fun.
The Dirty Marmaduke Flute Squad
The Dirty Marmaduke Flute Squad’s seemingly complete lack of brain cells would be downright annoying if the band’s first-blush idiocy wasn’t delivered with such genuine sarcasm and a sincere love of the really awful music that has been embedded in average American white guys’ brains thanks to the nonstop feed of rock radio, MTV, and cheesy action movies. And that sarcasm runs through pretty much every aspect of the band’s enterprise. It broke up following its October CD-release show for Boneslinky!, supposedly for not generating enough “commercial interest” to move forward. But when your first album is called Die Humpin! and a cut off your new album is called “Show Us Your Boobs (Buy Me a Beer),” limited commercial potential is knowingly built into the enterprise. I mean, there’s a reason why you don’t hear 98Rock jocks say, “That was Pearl Jam’s ‘Jeremy,’ now get ready for a little Anal Cunt.”
So take this unflappably insouciant band’s announcement of its demise with a grain of salt: Something tells me they were never in this for the money. Besides, when “Show Us Your Boobs (Buy Me a Beer)” sounds like such an Alice Cooper good time, it’s hard to imagine the irrepressible minds behind it lying dormant for too long. Cooper poppy shock rock is merely one of the, oh, too numerous to count genres the DMFS tries on here.
“Do You Got a Disease?” bops along as a nifty bit of Andrew Lloyd Webber musical-cum-synth-pop. “Innocent Night” uses a slice of kinda .38 Special country-rock pop to tell its tale of a creepy grown-ass man who drives around town in a van, dressed as a clown, stopping in at Little League Games. And “Stem Cellphones” is straight-out bombastic 1970s theatrical rock, like what Elton John and Bernie Taupin might have got up to—if they wanted to tell a story about a man trying to decide what to do with his unborn baby after the pregnant mother lapses into a coma: “Gonna cut out that baby/ for the stem cells before it dies.” None of this humor would find its target if the band wasn’t musically capable of delivering music so catchy, but that’s always been DMFS’ undeniable aplomb: making the lyrically ridiculous sound just as insipidly infectious as what you hear on the radio. That’s . . . something. Oh, why not: Consider it a rare gift.
For more information, visit flutesquad.com.