(Groggy Pack Entertainment)
Lurking in the shadows of New York state, the Doppelgangaz duo of EP and Matter Ov Fact have absorbed all that is dark, filthy and repugnant about the sprawling metropolitan area they call home and then filtered it through their shared Hip-Hop state of mind to create a truly engrossing listening experience in the form of their latest album “Lone Sharks”.
Like other unique East Coast duos before them such as Rae and Ghost, Mobb Deep and Heltah Skeltah, the Doppelgangaz put their own twist on their experiences growing up and residing in Parts Unknown aka Orange County, NY with obscure references, coded language, shared in-jokes and an undeniable chemistry.
Boasting a dusty, distorted basement vibe as its musical foundation, listening to “Lone Sharks” it’s easy to picture Matter and EP smoking weed with the homeless in an alley off Times Square before heading home to record with a broken MPC, a beaten-up Technics turntable, one microphone and a red lightbulb swinging overhead.
“Doppel Gospel” finds the pair looking to spread their Black Cloak Lifestyle “throughout the parks like a Pentecostal” over hazy, head-nodding beats. The potentially comedic “Dumpster Diving” is instead a moody, semi-tragic anthem for those dwelling in the cracks and crevices of society with the duo signposting the route to the bottom in no uncertain terms (“Sh*t begins with disgraced banishment and ends with picking through trash like waste management”). Similarly, the amusingly-titled “Wench Rench” manages to turn a track touching on personal hygiene into an understated and, dare I say, sophisticated affair.
Favouring a traditional 90s boom-bap jazz-infused sound, tracks such as “Dead Already” and “Suppository” are built around quintessential golden-age production which evokes the brilliance of timeless sample-kings such as Large Professor and Buckwild.
To the unitiated, the Doppelgangaz imagery and choice of subject matter may seem like a shallow gimmick, but the pair’s talent for quality beats and multi-layered wordplay can clearly be heard throughout this album. At times, the self-proclaimed Ghastly Duo sound like a cross between “Realms ‘N Reality” era Cella Dwellas and a subdued R.A. The Rugged Man, which is definitely no bad combination.
Whether you’re a subscriber to the Black Cloak Lifestyle or not, “Lone Sharks” is a potential modern-day cult classic which is as warm and organic as it is at times repulsive and confusing.