Dialogue Elevaters Crew features three MC’s and one DJ/producer, all of whom hail from the Minneapolis area. With their debut album, Elevater Music, DEC attempt to pull listeners in and elevate them with their original blend of twin city hip hop. Are they successful in doing so? On some levels the answer is “yes”, but on other levels the four-man crew needs a little improvement if they ever want to make it to the highest floor (excuse the metaphor).
First, let’s start with the album’s strengths, because there are times when listening to Elevater Music is genuinely pleasurable. The production is pretty solid throughout, though both “Sweet Music” and “Fame” leave some things to be desired. Overall, the group’s production team should be happy with the job that they’ve done. The DJ work, handled by in-house DJ/producer, Last Word, also sounds great in the context of the album. The sample chops that Last Word comes up with are always on point and create an element that is all too often overlooked in current releases. He cuts up bridges and choruses à la DJ Babu from Dilated Peoples, or the DJs from J5; though he may not show off the flashiness of those DJs, the results are similar. The general sound quality of the project is very good, and the album has a cohesion that many albums lack.
While musically Elevater Music is pretty damn good, we run into a problem when examining the lyrical aspect to the album. As the three MCs trade verses, the listener notices a definite discrepancy with the talent levels of the three rappers. DisputeOne flows nicely just about every time he rhymes, exuding a confidence that his rhyme partners don’t possess. Ernie Rhodes manages to sound comfortable in a couple places, with his self-produced solo track, “Theme Music”, being one of the better songs on the album. While DisputeOne always holds his own and Ernie Rhodes has his moments, the last rapper in the crew, geoffreywatsonMC, raps with a stiff and occasionally awkward delivery. There is no rule that states every MC needs to spit multi-syllabic rhymes or utilize an incredibly complicated flow in order to be effective—geoffreywatsonMC just needs to work on his delivery if he wants to be taken seriously.
On one of Elevater Music‘s tracks, the three MC’s list the hip-hop artists that have influenced the group during its musical journey. It was at this point in the album that DEC’s identity materialized. The group sounds like hip-hop fans honestly attempting to make hip-hop music. There is absolutely no problem with that—anyone who raps should be a fan of rap music. The problem is that they sound more like rap fans than an actual rap group. Practice makes perfect, and for all anyone knows DEC could blow up tomorrow.
My analysis of the group, however, tells me that they need some more work.