Veterans in the world of hip hop with careers spanning the Golden Era and beyond, Constant Deviants release their new album ‘Avant Garde’ on 12th May 2015
Their fourth album release in 5 years, the prolific partnership of rapper M.I. and producer DJ Cutt are a crew with origins in Baltimore and Brooklyn but born of NY State college party jams in the mid Nineties. Joint deejay and freestyle sessions saw the New Jersey pair develop a symbiotic working relationship which took to the studio in 1996 to record their renowned debut 12″ single ‘Competition Catch Speed Knots’.
In 1998 they produced their seminal 12’s ‘Can’t Stop’ and ‘8th Wonder b/w Hustler’s Prayer’. The impact of these early releases came to the attention of manager Mark Pitts (J Cole, Biggie, Bad Boy, Jive) and in 2000 M.I. penned a solo deal with Arista. Having already engineered Memphis Bleek’s debut album ‘Coming of Age’ in 1999, DJ Cutt provided some early production for M.I.’s solo projects before engineering albums for Roc-A-Fella artists N.O.R.E. and Beenie Sigel.
The duo’s paths crossed again in 2006. While developing future plans with the late producer Kyze (Capone-n-Noreaga), M.I. co-produced a remix of the track ‘Yup’ featuring Rick Ross and N.O.R.E with DJ Cutt. Working together once more invoked the spirit of their early days, and the pair established Six2Six Records. Dedicated to the authentic culture and sound of hip hop, the boutique label released new vinyl 12″ singles and re-issues by various independent artists.
Working with SWC Records (Switzerland), Australia’s Debonair P and Germany’s Amazing Maze took their brand to the international marketplace before in 2010 Constant Deviants produced their debut album “Concrete Utopia” for the imprint. ‘Amongst Friends’ (2011) and ‘Diamond’ (2012) followed, reinforcing their signature sound of eclectic jazz and soul sampled productions combined with M.I.’s smooth delivery of street tales wrapped in metaphors and easy wordplay.
As the name suggests, the new album takes the true essence of a past era and applies a contemporary twist for today. Cutt’s production provides a consistent heartbeat throughout, an easy tempo dictated by chopped drum loops, rare samples and grooves, rolling bass and skilled turntablism. His versatility produces an eclectic soundscape, whether the straight boom bap of ‘Standards’ or the hybrid jazz, soul and latino flavours concocted for ‘Breathin’, ‘Whatever U Call It’ and ‘It’s Like That’.
The haunting instrumentals on ‘Side B’ and ‘What’s Wrong’ compliment M.I.’s reflective mood, while the fuel injected electronica and rock infused ‘Machine Gun’, ‘Ms for Milleniums’ and ‘U Know What’ provides M.I. with the backdrop to unleash rhymes with an ease that is testament to his status as such a seasoned campaigner.
Two decades of experience shine through in M.I.’s lyricism. He reflects on his years in the industry, portrays the daily grind of the “Six2Six shift”, deals with personal issues in a series of verbal vignettes and verbalises on hip hop, all with a clarity of thought and delivery that helps takes the listener with him.
‘Avant Garde’ is an album with a sophisticated maturity by an MC and producer at ease with their craft. They have travelled down Major roads and lived to tell the tale. Back in the independent sector, both the album and their label reflect their journey and passion, derived from the traditional ethos of hip hop culture in a modern day setting. Just as with counterparts Hieroglyphics and Stones Throw, Constant Deviants and Six2Six Records enjoy longevity through evolution why staying true to themselves.
This is for the hip hop connoisseur and a new generation in equal measure.
Classic hip hop drawn from the Golden Era, turntablism, rhymes, beats