The art of bragging in Hip Hop is a time-honored tradition, one that has
been around since the culture’s inception. You’re doper than this dude, your
chain is bigger, your rhymes are tighter – you know the drill. Rakim
did it, B.I.G. did it, Weezy does it; damn
near every rapper brags (some better than others). It’s an important tradition
– one that Seattle’s Dyme Def intends to keep going on their
debut album Space Music.

Comprised of Fearce Villain, S.E.V. and Brainstorm
(the group’s primary beatmaker), Dyme Def has plenty to brag
about. Their influences are clear, as “iAintNo” samples Eric B
& Rakim‘s “I Ain’t No Joke,” and “TheGameNeedsMe” samples Jay-Z‘s famous
line from “Izzo.”
Much like the aforementioned rappers, each of the group’s members has a buttery
flow, and are generally about having a good time, as is evident by
songs like “StriktlyBusiness”“Crack
and a half, the swagger is back, must be/You rappers is lackin’ your rappin’ is
wack, trust me/Ill flow – beat it up, human crack – heat it up/Cats wack, wanna
hate, here’s a dick – eat it up.”

With a title like Space Music, you would expect some far-out
production – and you’d be right. Seattle’s own Bean One (Boom
Bap Project, Living Legends, Jurassic 5, X-Clan
), produces all but 4
of the songs and provides the kind of heat we’ve come to expect from him. The
intro track is something refreshingly funky, as is “GetDown.” “ClapClap”
brings back an old favorite as it samples Kurtis Blow’sThe Breaks. The album does
hit a bit of a lull with the appearance of tracks like “SoGood/itsBad”
and “Fresh2Def,”
which stick out like sore thumbs in an otherwise excellent album. These tracks
quickly become a distant memory, however, as songs like “AlottaRappers” have
straight ill production and clever lyricism: “I’m 20 with the power to
influence/How exclusive is that?/You ain’t into it? You’re excluded/Please move
to the back.”

Don’t get it twisted though; while songs like “Sweat” address lighthearted
subjects with lines like “I just wanna get brain/I’m a nerd,” it’s not
all jokes. “LetItBe”
is a heartfelt song in which Dyme Def discuss their personal
demons: “I’m a point in my life that the main issue/Is to have a joint in
my life they point at my life/And laugh, see I got two jobs and I’m still
broke/See I got bad asthma and I still smoke/The doctor telling me my breathing
is getting worse/And soon I won’t be able to spit a verse, now I’m feelin’
cursed/No turnin’ to my dad cuz he’s too far to look for/So instead I for
him/But I don’t look forward to seein’ him/At night I still have bad dreams of
bein’ him

When all is said and done, Space Music is a
dope debut that should prove to be a landmark album for Northwestern Hip Hop.
The beats are quite different from what you’ll hear nowadays; a true school
feel that happens to be quite radio ready. The subject matter is generally
entertaining (and occasionally introspective), though it tends to get a little
stale on some of the less engaging songs. These minor missteps are overshadowed
by the group’s greatest asset – their hunger. Dyme Def’s unabashed
humor, diverse production and subject matter make Space Music a
pleasant surprise, and it will leave you wanting more.