by Jeff Milo
Doss The Artist w/Hir-O
Gabriel Doss considers himself and producer Hir-O to be more on the exterior of this current hip-hop crop. Their divergence from traditionally perceived sensibilities of the rap genre is displayed not only on their electro-centric recordings and conceptual arrangements, but also when the young emcee name drops Thom Yorke (Radiohead,) Animal Collective and post-bop jazz icons like Yusef Lateef as key influences. But he also nods to others like Outkast, and to newer rappers like Kendrick Lamaar, whilst also nodding to local legends like Proof and J-Dilla.
Their most recent album 9 Lives demonstrates their range of tastes, from forceful beat arrangements under dystopian-techno-synth storms, to softer, spaced out cinematic trips that employ samples from "Charlie Brown" soundtrack composer Vince Guaraldi. In fact, that 9 Lives sounds like some soundtrack of an indie-art house drama depicting two young, pensive, somewhat pissed-off but altogether impassioned documentarians on a walkabout through Detroit's mostly-empty night streets, speaks to their desire to aim towards album's completing full statements that fill the whole screen, as opposed to a pair of singles with some filler.