For the uninitiated, Dirty Science is a LA-based record label headed up by prolific producer/beat- smith Exile. It boasts an impressive roster including Blu, Fashawn, Aloe Blacc and Dag Savage, as well as promising up-and-comers Choosey and Pistol McFly.
During the month of November the Dirty Science crew, including Exile, Blu, Choosey and Pistol McFly, were on a a month-long, 10-date European tour, celebrating the half way mark with a performance at London’s XOYO on the 16th of November.
With all of the artists residing in the sunshine state of California, they were finding the start of the European winter slightly unbearable.
“It’s been super cold, I wasn’t prepared”, said Exile.
None the less, they were excited to be spreading the Dirty Science word and their music across the European continent.
Interestingly, the tour promoter chose smaller European cities for the tour, with five cities in Germany, and London and Berlin being the only European capital cities on the roster. Despite this, the collective were still seeing strong attendance and support of the shows.
“Yeah they’ve all been solid shows”, Exile said.
Each of the artists were riding the wave of releases, each having found success in their own personal way.
Exile, as the label head and main label producer, has been involved in the creation and release of multiple projects. In 2019 alone Exile solely produced the Tru & Livin’ EP with Blu and Black Beans album with Choosey, as well as the The Warning Tape and Salvation with Dag Savage.
On staying focused and inspired, Exile said “I’m … making the soundtrack so they can tell their story. I try and draw from [them] the best way I can sonically … and how we talk with each other and vibe with each other”.
Blu has also had a highly productive year, releasing 5 projects in 2019, both with Exile and other prominent producers. Blu has continued the Soul Amazing Series, releasing Part Eight, a 35-track mixtape in July. He also collaborated with Damu the Fudgemunk on a 8‑track EP Ground & Water, fellow LA producer Oh No on A Long Red Hot Los Angeles Summer Night another full length album project and with OG Fat Jack on the Underground Makes The World Go Round EP. Active since 2007 with the critically acclaimed Below The Heavens, this may be Blu’s most creative year yet. Each project was standout and unique but still had that Blu finesse.
“[I] stay hungry, I eat up so many beats”, Blu laughs.
“I’m staying busy, I have a gang of unreleased tracks I’m sitting on, I’m planning on releasing a lot more material, it’s coming,” Blu advised.
Choosey is a relatively newcomer to the scene with only one project from 2014 under his belt prior to his signing to Dirty Science. His debut album, which was released in March 2019, Black Beans was solely produced by Exile and is a very personal / introspective release touching on Choosey’s mix Black / Hispanic background.
“When I first met Ex[ile] we discussed the idea making an album but we didn’t really have a direction. We started a normal conversation, just talking about my family, things like that.
“And we landed on the idea of really telling my heritage. He always thought it was cool that I am mix and … we went down different stories”.
Rounding out the DS crew was Pistol McFly who was the only rapper in the room who hadn’t yet worked with Exile despite being on his label. Though, Exile is eager to do something.
McFly also had a consistent year with the release of an EP Snack Run and a full length album Road Trip with renown producer Power. The EP and album were themed around road trips and had received rave reviews including one from New York producer Statik Selektah.
“Road Trip is, you know, life is a trip, you start in one place and you end up in a difference place but you see a lot of things when you look out the window, you see a lot of things you don’t see at home.
“[The inspiration was] my life, just life in general, life isn’t easy, life is hard, life isn’t happy all the time [but] it isn’t always sad. Just reflecting on life”.
Following the finish of the tour, the collective were looking forward to being back home with their families. There was even talk of a Dirty Science album featuring all three artists in the room, with of course Exile at the helm, “we want to do an album collectively”, Exile mentioned.
This show itself was an opportunity for newcomers Pistol McFly and Choosey to connect with new fans and Blu & Exile to reconnect with old ones.
The opening act kept the crowd warmed up with his dynamic lyricism and entertaining anecdotes. An accomplished written word and poet artist, his show was much like a stage show, with his words and gestures charming and humouring the crowd.
Exile played DJ duties and manned the turntables for the entire night in support of his Dirty Science crew. Each rapper would pay homage and respect to Exile and he would do his live set. Exile wowed the crowd with his live MPC performances and intense scratching.
First to the stage was Pistol McFly and despite being a relatively unknown artist here in London, he held the stage and kept the vibe up. To make up for the unfamiliarity of his songs with the crowd, he interacted with the crowd and got the crowd involved in singing hooks. It must be incredibly difficult to vibe with a crowd who don’t know your work, but Pistol McFly did a great job of working with that and maintaining the crowd’s attention.
Choosey took that energy and built on it. His music is sonically more fast-paced and has a greater energy, so his set lifted the vibe of the room even higher. Choosey’s most recent release Black Beans is a deeply personal project and this came through in his story-telling and performance. Though similarly to Pistol McFly, there was a small familiarity in the crowd, Choosey kept the audience engaged with his energy. There was also a friendly and lively dynamic between Choosey and Exile that kept the set interesting.
This energy was all culminating in the headline set of Blu’s, which it seemed many of the attendees were there to see. Despite two other US Hip Hop headline shows that same night, there was an encouraging crowd at XOYO that night.
Releasing music for 12 years now, Blu has an extensive back catalogue to access for performances and fans were treated to a mixture of old and new tracks. He kicked off with some of the newer tracks which garnered cheers from the crowd, but it was older tracks such as Dancing In The Rain and Oh Heaven that had the crowd going off.
Later on during the set, Choosey joined Blu on stage as an impromptu hype man. The energy between the two rappers splayed into the crowd and brought the hype of the performance up. Blu is a great rhymer and storyteller but he is not known for the most engaging or energetic performances. Choosey jumping on stage with Blu also showed they had developed a decent report during the tour.
The combination of Blu, Exile on the decks, Choosey working as a hype man and Pistol McFly dancing on the side of stage showed a united Dirty Science crew. Touring as a group for an extended period of time can bring out the best or the worst in relationships, but it seems all is well in the DS camp. Can’t wait for that album.
Kylie de vos
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