Review: DUKE01 (@TherealDuke01) ‘STEROID STEREO’

As a hip-hop pur­ist, I feel it’s always pos­sible to dif­fer­en­ti­ate between artists that rap because they want to make rap music and those that rap because it came nat­ur­ally to them and star­ted organ­ic­ally.  One artist rep­res­ent­at­ive of the lat­ter is Not­ting­ham based MC Duke01 who recently revealed that he star­ted rap­ping as a form of expres­sion dur­ing a time in his youth when he felt a real sense of isol­a­tion and being alone, the organ­ic roots of his craft are evid­ent in the depth of pas­sion poured into his deliv­ery.

Latest release ‘Ster­oid Ste­reo’, out now on Uncom­mon Records, veri­fies this pas­sion and intens­ity per­fectly.

Intro ‘Killed Your Radio’ opens with horns and scratch­ing, set­ting an old-skool tone that con­tin­ues through­out the record.  There’s a futur­ist­ic feel to the intro which com­bines well with the old-skool ele­ments to cre­ate a sound that’s con­tem­por­ar­ily innov­at­ive whilst ‘tip­ping the hat’ to the ori­gins of hip-hop.

‘Elling­ton Bin­ary (A Depth Jam Record­ing)’ fol­lows as track 2.  The beat and style of deliv­ery here are remin­is­cent of 80s hip-hop, Duke01 has taken a style of flow sim­il­ar to greats such as Pub­lic Enemy and put a Brit­ish stamp on it, evoc­at­ive of some legendary UK hip-hop heavy­weights from back in the day such as Cook­ie Crew or Rod­ney P. The beat chugs away mech­an­ic­ally behind the vocal both com­pon­ents clev­erly work­ing both inde­pend­ently and col­lab­or­at­ively with each oth­er, at times the beat and vocal are hand in hand and at oth­er times play­ing off against one anoth­er.  The vocal line also works to cre­ate counter-rhythms which add to the over­all effect mag­ni­fi­cently, then towards the end a gui­tar riff you could have heard as a solo on a Prince track is thrown into the mix car­ry­ing the listen­er to the finale in gran­di­ose style fin­ish­ing off with more scratch­ing, again giv­ing us a hint of the old-skool.

Track 3 is ‘Eat Your Mis­takes’ , a track about tak­ing respons­ib­il­ity for your actions, con­duct and beha­viour in rela­tion­ship break­downs.  The beat is of a sim­il­ar style to track 2, chug­ging and par­tially old-skool but with a con­tem­por­ary twist.  The word­play here is on point with atten­tion being paid to both rhyme and mean­ing.

‘The Pur­suit of Cow Meat’ fol­lows as track 4 and with a march­ing beat, scratch­ing and some impress­ively fast spit­ting, is a high­light of the record.  There is, again, some clev­er word­play ‘The Per­suit of Cow Meat/Beef’ for example, it’s good to see artists remem­ber­ing that they can put out music with a ser­i­ous and import­ant mes­sage but still have fun with con­cepts and word­play as this is so often for­got­ten in hip-hop today.

Track 5 is ‘Count­down to Armour Get­ting’ (anoth­er great example of the high-grade word­play we’re being treated to on this record), fea­tur­ing fel­low MCs Dwyzak, Masai Bey, Pass­ive 65ive, Atari Blitzkrieg & Uncom­mon as guests.  At 7:38 the track does drag on slightly but it’s filled with so much great­ness that this doesn’t really mat­ter.  The beat is, again, hard­core and action packed with sound effects and crashes with the MCs let­ting their words wrap around and become part of the rhythms cre­ated.

‘Silence Fic­tion’ is the pen­ul­tim­ate track, anoth­er high­light of the record.  The deliv­ery is on point and there’s more top word­play.  A gui­tar riff repeats through­out, hold­ing the track togeth­er, mak­ing a refresh­ing change from the drum machine heavy sounds so pro­lif­ic on the hip-hop scene.

‘Sep­ar­ated By An Abyss’ is the record closer, open­ing with scratch­ing as if to remind the listen­er one last time of the old-skool influ­ences that have been present through­out.  There’s some deep mean­ing in the lines of this track and, again, some great word­play.  On this track  both instru­ment­a­tion and deliv­ery seem a little less hard than both have been at oth­er points on the record and this works per­fectly at this point, push­ing the listen­ers focus to the words them­selves and what is being said.

With ‘Ster­oid Ste­reo’ Duke01 has cre­ated a great record, which will please fans of both old-skool and mod­ern day rap due to the inclu­sion of ele­ments syn­onym­ous with both styles.  The scratch­ing and deliv­ery for example are often remin­is­cent of 80s hip-hop where­as the sub­ject mat­ter, instru­ment­a­tion (at times) and some of the sound­scap­ing tech­niques bor­row more from mod­ern day hip-hop.  It’s also incred­ibly refresh­ing to hear beats that rely heav­ily on gui­tar riffs and horns to hold them togeth­er rather than the ‘drums-or-noth­ing’  approach so often taken.  These innov­at­ive ele­ments may mean that you have to listen to the record more than once before you start to really embrace it as it’s dif­fer­ent to a lot of the hip-hop put out on today’s mar­ket.  If you find your­self unsure after the first spin, I highly recom­mend you play the record again.


Micky Roots

Micky Roots


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Micky Roots

Micky Roots

Micky roots is one of the edit­ors of I am hip hop magazine, a pure hip hop head and visu­al artist he brings his strong know­ledge of hip hop, social con­scious­ness & polit­ic­al con­cern to No Bounds.

About Micky Roots

Micky Roots
Micky roots is one of the editors of I am hip hop magazine, a pure hip hop head and visual artist he brings his strong knowledge of hip hop, social consciousness & political concern to No Bounds.

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