The ARE & Dem Damb Jacksons

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Another afternoon of unwinding. Today’s soundtrack includes The ARE’s featuring Dem Damb Jacksons (with Oh No & Kay [of the Foundation]). The ARE, to my knowledge half of the group K-Otix, has released a few free albums (mainly instrumental) through RappersIKnow. Other than them, my only experience has been random tracks from various albums, e.g. there is a K-Otix track on the second Superrappin volume, a cameo on the wholly underrated Art of OneMind (Illmind & S1), and a slew of production credits, i.e. “So Perfect” from Sivion’s Spring of the Songbird. (If anyone can identify the sample of the latter, it’d be much appreciated).

The ARE’s sound is quite reminiscent of Nicolay, and while I usually try to avoid the “if you like ‘x’ you’ll like ‘y’ ” I feel confident in suggesting that if you dig Nicolay’s bouncy-jazzy-synthy sound, you’ll be able to get into The ARE. Many of his beats are lined with distinct drums and you can count on an ill soul sample.

On Featuring Dem Damb Jacksons, so many things are going right I don’t know where to start. A brief synopsis may go something like this: Oh No & Kay both share the same last name of Jackson. The ARE does not. Oh No & Kay handle much of the writing and rhyming, hence the “Dem Damb Jacksons.” For The ARE’s role, he samples heavily from some other famous Jacksons, focusing mainly on The Jacksons/Jackson 5, but thankfully, on “Oh” using Michael’s “Baby Be Mine.” As with Kanye’s “Good Life” (and SWV’s “Right Here”), I’m always an instant fan when MJ is sampled. So, you roll Oh No, Kay, & The ARE out and what you have is a brief (@ 30 mins) listen which is soulful & hip-hop from 0:00 to 30:06 (the end).

Despite being a big Jacksons/MJ fan, the samples used aren’t easily identified. The ARE’s cutting is on point; he incorporates several synthy guitars, and heavy bass..at least on “Keep Trying,” one of my favorite tracks, which features D-Rose (also of the Foundation) and Donwill (of Ilwill & Tanya Morgan fame). On it, Donwill echos the sentiments of many hip hops fans (I know Kyle & I have admitted this several times): “Rap is a hell of drug/you can’t stop, won’t stop…” The track essentially works as a motivational, “this is the shit I had to go through” song.

Listening to this makes me want to listen to my entire The Jacksons collection. The sampling at times is so inconspicuous that I’ve been replaying over and over again trying to pinpoint the exact song. “So Far” is a perfect example – drifty melody backed by bangin’ drums, with MJ dancing in between it all. “I Want You Gone” uses The Jackson 5’s “I Want You Back” a track that has been sampled several times, yet The ARE’s use is subtle enough that it doesn’t jump out at you.

Another great aspect of the album is it’s free. That’s right. Just like I did, you can head over to RappersIKnow right now and download it (along with the instrumental version). And while your there, be sure to search The ARE and d/l his Still Climbing EP, which features a mix of instrumental and vocal tracks…including the dope “Hip Hop” with Strange Fruit Project.

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