Official Album art from Dynasty’s DreamPusher
Recently drawn lines between indie and mainstream hip-hop, street and stage aside–there seems to be room in the genre for only one female MC in terms of at-large cultural relevancy. The fact that Nicki Minaj seems to occupy this exclusive role in 2011 doesn’t bother me all that much. What may sicken me about her image (the less-than-subtle attempt to craft a more voluptuous, hip-hop answer to Lady Gaga) is more than made up for in her talent. Still, I yearn for simpler days when Lauryn Hill’s “Doo-Wop (That Thing)” momentarily ruled the airwaves. No crunching, distorted bass-lines or kitschy sadism; just percussive piano in staccato behind delicious harmonies and ?uestlove’s drum kit.
While most of us wait–likely in vain–for Hill to grace us with her follow-up to The Miseducation, BTR’s DJ Wayne Ski brings us quite the delicious dish with which to tide over our collective appetites, now starved for far more than a decade.
It’s hard not to draw comparisons between this week’s Discovery Artist, Dynasty, and the one-time Fugee-turned-recalcitrant-superstar. For one thing, on appearances alone the Queens rapper is a dead ringer for young early ’90s Hill: an effervescent smile making for open pages bound by shapely, elated cheeks– you can just see her holding a stack of Grammy trophies in a few years, should she ever be discovered by major label A&Rs. Even if Minaj’s fame isn’t likely receding anytime soon, Dynasty’s stardom is certainly not out of the realm of possibility. Her music, though rough enough around its edges for her to tour in support of Wu-Tang Clan and their acolytes, is still quite approachable–and for all the right reasons.
The antematic “Original” lays out her artistic constitution explicitly:
Original is what they call us,
The generals – we given’ out the orders,
So dope We don’t need a hook or a chorus,
Tryin’ to find stars they looked up and they saw us-
That description might mislead the reader to thinking Dynasty’s statement lies in form-defying music a la Illmatic, but rest assured– both hooks and choruses come in abundance. Swelling orchestral samples and soulful string-section plucking that crackle with the damage of aged vinyls quantify most of her underlying beats. Anachronistic? A little but not retroactive enough to warrant the damning label “old school”–there’s still plenty of scattered, more modern tricks (autotune and the like) to go around.
On a last note, the MC deserves major props for priding herself in a life achievement that, in my recollection, has been shied away from too often by the genre. Frequently in interviews, Dynasty makes note of her Associates degree in Theatere Arts from Five Towns College in Long Island, and subsequent scholarship for a Bachelors from the school in order to peruse her stagecraft. A well earned boast, she puts more simply in declaring, “I’m the first rap chic with a rap scholarship.”
For more on Dynasty you can visit her website, www.thefemcee.com.