Siah and Yeshua DapoED first entered my audio radar via their vinyl “The Visualz EP “ as the fifth release on Fondle Em Records. By then, Bobbito Garcia’s label was one of the most exciting labels on the underground and news of each new release was met with much anticipation. The key difference of this record was that Siah and Yeshua were the first artists on Fondle Em that I had never heard of before I saw the record in stores. That really mattered little, I trusted Bobbito’s ear and was determined to buy it anyway, but it invoked a different sort of curiosity.
The original vinyl is six tracks deep, all ranging in quality of great to greater. The contribution of lyrics and production is mostly self-contained between Siah and Yeshua DapoED, with a vocal appearance by Ken Boogaloo, scratches by DJ Bless, and additional production assistance from Jon Adler (who Discogs.com credits for later doing engineering work on projects from Changing Faces, St Lunatics, Common "Electric Circus", and The Roots "Phrenology).
With the exception of one track, the music is various degrees of laid-back and jazzy. The EP opens with the title track, “The Visualz” and immediately cements the fact that both MCs are true wordsmiths. Yeshua DapoED initiates things with what could be considered the crew mission-statement, “Physical angelic being, Yeshua DapoED/In the process of freeing minds from all the nonsense/ejected, by unperfected rhymes designed/By self-elected MCs who thought they wreck it, it’s time to/Really get down to the writing before reciting/Trying to frighten is cool, but not exciting the fools from Brighton…” Nearly every rhyme scheme hits at a unique point in the bar structure, resulting in a sort of series of rhythmic run-on sentences that keeps the style as engaging as the content.
Yeshua’s style is often based on intricate patterns, a sprinkling of witty punchlines, and finding ways to cleverly say things that are easily understood. On the other hand, Siah is prone to delve into the far reaches of the mental and beautifully construct abstract poetics that require several listen to “maybe” fully comprehend what he is conveying. Regardless, it’s woven together so enchantingly that it still remains pleasing to the ear even if you are left dumbfounded. This is perfectly illustrated on “Gravity”, “Wind blows in the intro, fronting like I did it/but them elemental forces blessed me with possession/Fraction of my physical action is a tenth/Nine consist of soul, but I’m (down by law)/The span of my arms does not constitute my reach/That’s the sideways eight, otherwise, a few feet/Vertical is 5’4”, giving you the two-dimensional/Third is the depth that’s incomprehensible/Fourth is the time that binds space/Situated in the mind where the rhyme race/Light-speed, I feed the rhythm ill thoughts/Without a hook and it still gets caught/I scale walls like fish, bringing the mix from across the River Styx/For deciphering, like the Matrix/In the annals of Rap I want the dog ear page/Nothing less than that, plus a whole lot more/And it’s hard living by the mental intersection/Where writers block is sorta like gridlock/Yeah, but my connection with the earth is finite/So until my body’s terminated I’m gonna always rhyme tight!” That’s quite possibly my favorite lyrical moment on the record.
Yeshua’s verse on “Gravity” sort of picks up where he left us from the previous song, this time plotting to make good on the promises he made on the “The Visualz.” He outlines, with vivid detail, a phone conversation that very well could be the one that lead to us hearing these very recordings.
“Glass Bottom Boat” is probably the most aggressive song on the EP. The drums are hitting a bit harder, but it still maintains the EP’s Jazz vibe with the sounds of a Xylophone (?) providing the primary supporting instrumentation. Lyrically, it’s an all out display of skill and style. For the most part, Siah maintains his same vocal demeanor, despite the pumped up energy of the track, and just rides the rhythm. The song comes to close with the EP’s lone vocal guest, Ken Boogaloo, who drops a quality verse. Nestled in the middle is an amped up Yeshua that leaves you hungry to hear him in this rhyme zone more.
Bringing it back to the Fondle Em roots, “No Sole Dopest Opus” snatches a classic vocal sample from a Pharoahe Monch (Organized Konfusion) Free Verse from The Stretch Armstrong Show Hosted By Bobbito, “I leave no footprints on the sands of time so those wack MCs can’t follow me!” This song may not be either MC at their verbal best, but it’s only a slight notch below that, as both MCs rip skillful verses. When that is combined with the beat which is composed of heavily accented snares, dramatic pianos, relaxing horns, and a hi-hat just doing its own thing panned off to the side, you get one of the overall better songs on the EP.
The record’s B-side starts off with “The Mystery” and truthfully it’s the song that I have listen to the least, pretty much previous ignored actually. In fact, listening to it now I can barely remember it. It taps into a skill that they hint at thru out the record and on the title, story-telling. A closer listen reveals this is a well-written track and I was definitely sleeping a little bit, but the true test to their story-telling talents and creative explorations is fully realized on the final track, “A Day Like No Other”.
This 11+ minute magnum opus is a bit of a Hip Hop masterpiece. The story follows them on great journeys of the magical and mystical. It conjures childhood memories of stories of Frog & Toad, The Hobbit, Alice In Wonderland and The Lion, The Witch, And The Wardrobe. The song has at least nine completely different beat changes to match the mood, pace and direction of the story. After embarking on this action-packed adventure with them the listener is left at cliffhanger moment with the ultimate unanswered question, which is the Hip Hop equivalent of the briefcase contents of Pulp Fiction.
That is how the original, vinyl only release fittingly comes to a close. In 2008 Traffic Entertainment issued the “The Visualz Anthology” to release all the songs on CD for the first time, plus including fourteen additional tracks, guest features and freestyles. When I first picked up this re-release, the thick book of liner notes had me anticipating that they might have included the lyrics or perhaps some discussion of the hidden meanings of the lyrics. However, that wasn’t the case. Instead it’s filled with a press kit of their career; flyers, magazine write-ups, photos, and also detailed credits. All the included bonus tracks are well worth a listen and further suggests that had they continued to make music together there would have been a wealth of other great material.
Perhaps the lone misstep of this anthology is the exclusion of Siah’s “Repetition”, one of my favorites from their catalog. Not long after their EP release Siah left the music scene and Yeshua DapoED focused on a solo career, releasing a decent amount of additional music. Although he released his music on a few different labels, he continually pushed his Head Bop Music imprint. Label manager, Pocho, has recently announced the re-ignition of the label with plans to release new music soon!
Once I realized we didn’t have the Siah & Yeshua DapoED “The Visualz Anthology” in the store I had to get some stocked up. This is a great collection of music that I don’t think has nearly reached the amount of people who would fully appreciate it. Listening to it now, it still sounds refreshing and innovative. . If you are up on it…reflect and if you missed it…get familiar.Siah and Yeshua DapoED "The Visualz" Sampler:
Written By Kevin Beacham