Dynospectrum is one of those albums that Rhymesayers fans, old to the new, are often intrigued by. It exists as a sort of Rhymesayers must have, partially because it is drenched in a lot of history. It dropped in ’98, just as Rhymesayers was starting to gain national attention. Arguably, it is here that Ant, if only on a handful of tracks, starts to fully experiment with that emotional music he would eventually become famous for. However, the Dynospectrum soundscape is darker and more grim than the musical storyboards he would soon paint for Atmosphere, Musab, or Brother Ali. Regardess, it is perfect in capturing the mood of the Minnesota winter. The album features four MCs, each at early turning points of their careers; Slug just before “Lucy Ford”, Musab right as he is exiting from the Beyond moniker, I Self Devine is in the process of finishing his first full length album, “Return Of The Travellahs”, and Mr. Gene Poole is hitting a lyrical stride that results in an explosive representation on this album.
The Dynospectrum album didn’t have the typical campaign for a released album, even for a Rhymesayers release. There was no tour, no singles, and for the most part, no marketing campaign (this was touched on briefly in our “Return Of The Travellahs” review). It was the sort of album for those who were in the know. Below I outline my personal ideas of what may have been if there was a proper campaign, as well as explore some songs and lyrics. So many songs have stand out qualities, that I had to try to narrow my highlights down a bit and even that got a bit lengthy…
“Headphone Static” is moody boom-bap and every time I hear that Crash Crew vocal sample on the hook I’m all smiles, “It’s music that’s made for your mind…” I Self Devine’s style is so ill on here. It’s performances like this that solidify the fact he is a veteran of the scene. It’s evident in his presence and flow. Meanwhile, Slug displays his gift for turning anything into a conceptual verse, even what is essentially a sarcastic-styled battle rhyme, such as here.
“Permanent On Surfaces” has a low-key vibe. Gene Poole kicks it off with a solid verse that challenges the empty aspirations of the average MC. The best verse comes at the end, courtesy of Beyond, “Who in your crew can name this? Approach, I’ll vanquish/I daze and flip it in ways to show amazement/Raise the occasion, the vibration make’s you hemorrhage/Because the vengeance is headed for your lineage…” and he just continues to flow on effortless…
“Southside Myth” would have been a great choice for a leaker track a.k.a the first song released from the album. It has that anthem feel and each MC represents with quality verses. The one missing element is Beyond doesn’t have a solo verse and Dyno is basically his brainchild. However, that theory is offset by the fact that Beyond does the song’s hook and it serves as a introduction to the crew, but not by the names you know (except Gene Poole), instead they are represented by their Dyno names; Pat Juba a.k.a I Self Devine, Sep Sev a.k.a Slug, and General Woundwart a.k.a Beyond).
Slug’s “Southside Myth” verse is a great representation of his playful style with creative patterns, “Keep it moving, improvement/Keep it moving, inducement/Keep it moving, give contusions to crews wit the juice/While the juveniles try to use my style/Advise you to seek a better rep before you lose the trial/The smile on my face, a distraction device/or maybe it’s a reaction to the fact that there’s mics/And what’s a party with a mic? That’s a Dynospec session/In the back, by the DJ, we’ll be blessing heads with sessions.”
Mr. Gene Poole closes things off with one of those defining verses that makes him arguably the highlight of the album, “Labels love to pick up lil trick sluts like y’all/Trying to be mixed up in big city life living in St Paul/Get a call from out of state and go excited to represent/Then get f**ked by a company who takes 90 percent/You’ll never find me bent on a Uptown bench/Yo, I’m a Downtown man, jumping over back street fences/Whether past or pretenses, look I break glass lenses/And take cash for V12 Jags and fast Benz’s/Every word’s intended to slash tendons/Until you break down, I come at you and execute successful take downs/I shake ground under your feet, so respect the P/double O-L-E, who’ll show ni**as how to MC!”
“Traction” let’s each of the MCs flex their styles for 4 minutes straight, no breaks and no hooks. The first stand out moment comes from Mr. Gene Poole, “I wonder if God’ll have any pity on MCs/Or if he’ll just judge them as being human beings/Some ain’t seeing their faults, others become part of rapper caught/in a way to be placed in the back of a vault/The black angel can’t be caught stalking/Sometimes you can feeling him when your walking, listening when your talking/Thine eyes is keener than a Falcoln/Excuse me for gawking, I think I seen your face before in a coffin/Or maybe I robbed you while we were golfing/Like ??? jet back off to the loft where we count the software/Life is always false, never fair/So there’s no type of amusement, just take music out of my hair!”
Beyond, comes in strong with, “I came psychotic, but I kept the s**t in the closet/Reading magazines about scoping and killing targets”. Later he takes a shot at the MCs who love to front, “I get excited when I see these fake MCs styling/Cancelled contracts are piling, ni**as be jiving/Telling lies and fibs about the life you live/You must be high off this drama and the trifling bids/I strike your s**t and bring about violent current tears/cause I’m merciless, suck on a nipple just for preservatives!” His opening to his next verse is a peek at his mastery over phonics, “People try to be extravagant with they inhabitants/Yapping about their yearly income and what they’re averaging…”
I Self’s second go round is one of his finest on the record, “Accurate attack, smack ni**as back millenniums/Militant tactics attract black youth to my Tiananmen square/Cinnamon brown-skin four point square/Assualt mechaniz, I stagger with air, the record biz/Oblivious to fowl s**t, hell & corporate/Dig Dug helium mentality, ni**ga forfeit/Jewels, royalty, car keys, Gs, garment/Deadly dormant, ass naked out your apartment/Complex, ni**as are starving/Principality normally, fatality verbally burn, scalding/Ancient art form’s pour out my cauldron/Adrenaline runs free, I’m pole vaulting/Faulty individuals seek for higher medicine/mescaline, masculinity converts feminine/Melanin, I got that locked like DNA code/Too much ying without your yang, sucker, your bound to fold!”
“Evidence Of The Things Not Seen” is the home of Beyond’s finest verse on the record. It’s the moment best representative of his General Woundwartpersona, as he outlines a tale of the bitter taste of defeat.
My favorite track on the record has always been “Tenfold”. Slug is on the hook, but only I Self Devine and Mr. Gene Poole drop verses and the results are two of the best vocal performances on the album. I Self Devine’s verse is filled with a sense of urgency and the flow is complex, but perfectly executed. It all comes to a blistering close with, “Fearing this, skills go back like stepped pyramids/Going up hills with anvils, never back slid/Struggling, juggling, jugular veins be flying/burning your zone like sniffing lines of red cayenne!” Mr. Gene Poole comes out blazing, “I’ve lost jobs, girlfriends and even squabs/Like the time my white friend yelled ‘GDs!’ in front of some slobs/We get clobbered/Why should I have to wear a collar to get dollars/By the power of the almighty father/I’ll walk in bothered and ask my boss for extra hours/Would I be a coward if a jumped from the 30th floor of the tower?/You damn right, I scoured streets on the quest for fresh beats/Made B-boys some of my best peeps, word to Sess, rest in peace…”
It’s a safe guess that “Anything Is Everything” would be great choice for a single/video choice. All four MCs drop quality verses and both Mr. Gene Poole and I Self Devine kick extra verses at the end. Ant’s has a great solemn vibe with a twist of bounciness and it all comes together lovely with the vocal sample that rings the sentiment of the song title.
“Armor” is the album closer and musically sounds like something you’d hear playing in Dr. Frankenstein’s castle. The chorus sets the tone, “Fully armed with light, illuminate the night…don’t blink”. As if sneaking around that lair, each MC taps into their inner voice to calmly chastise the lesser MCs.
Writing this review gave me a deeper insight on the record. I always appreciated the album for the lyrics, but it’s much easier to get lost in the overall vibe. However, after repeated listens of the album this week I have a better grasp on each MCs lyrical input. Slug wins the conceptual flow award, with creative flows and styles, such as his double-up style on “Introspection”, the conversational approach of “Evidence Of Things Not Seen”, his unearthly 3rd person narrative on “Superior Friends”, his over exaggerated annunciation multi-syllabics on “Decompression Chamber”, and a heavy dosage of witty one-liners thru out. Beyond exercises his great understanding of language and vocabulary with a seemingly endless supply of unique multi-syllabic combinations. Mr. Gene Poole undoubtedly has some of the most explosive moments on the album, with incredible verses on “Southside Myth”, “Traction”, “Superior Friends”, “Breath Of Fresh” and probably most notably, “Tenfold”. It's nearly impossibly to not walk away with some of his verses and/or quotable ringing in your mind. All in all, I Self Devine is consistently dominating with his presence, relying heavily on his esoteric thought process, authoritative voice, and creative literary approach.
It’s unfortunate that the Dynospectrum only existed as a one-shot side project. Based on the time limitations associated with the recording of this project and the immediate growth within everyone involved that instantly followed, all the evidence suggests that a sophomore album, circa ’99-‘00, would have been monumental.
Up next we explore the Micranots “Faward” EP…
-BONUS GEMS:While working on these I Self Devine articles, the man himself blessed me with some intriguing info. He has diligently kept a notebook for every album he has put out that contains all the original lyrics. For someone like myself, always fiending to examine the lyrics, that was quite the discovery. To give me just a taste, he dropped by the office with the lyric sheet for his verse from "Traction". You'll note that he had wrote it too long so there's an extra line at the end in the text that is not included on the song....
Written By Kevin Beacham
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