Rapper Dubble-o-Beez and rapper-turned-Autotune-crooner Young Sau recently teamed up as the duo Monkey Beezness (I get the pun of Beez/Beezness, but does that mean Young Sau is like a monkey or something? That sounds messed up). They released their self-titled debut album for free download on mix-tape database DatPiff last month, though I'm just now getting around to jotting down any words on it because I'm such a good journalist like that.
Lil Wayne's single line "We are not the same, I am a Martian" seems to have been a heavy influence on the two artists -- Beez even invokes that line on the aptly titled "We Ain't the Same" while claiming to have arrived on a spaceship. The two artists, who previously seemed content making prototypical West Coast rap, suddenly took a slight left turn.
The thing is, Sau really loves Autotune, the voice manipulation technique popularized by T-Pain. Almost all of his vocals are sent through Autotune (I think he raps one or two verses without Autotune). A video interview also reveals a love for experimental glitch-hop from the likes of Samiyam and the Gaslamp Killer. Monkey Beezness sounds like Sau searching for common ground between Autotune and glitch-hop, then shifting the center of the music into the clouds.
Truthfully, I'm not a huge fan of Autotune myself. But, if you can look past it, there's some good music to be heard here. As I understand it, the album was produced by Dave Moss, who is one of the more respected, veteran producers in San Diego. But the samples were brought to Moss by Sau. As a result, the eclectic instrumentals vary widely in style. "Change," an indictment of fake friends, is driven by Godfather-esque horns and tinny 808 drums. Meanwhile, "Have You Ever," sampling the SNES RPG classic, "Chrono Trigger," sees Beez and Sau smoking themselves into an ethereal realm. "Cash Flow" straight up sounds like a night at the carnival.
Beez and Sau are better in the context of the music than taken alone. Beez can't break out of his monotone. Sau can't put away the Autotune. But Beez knows how to write a rhyme. And Autotune sounds much better when surrounded by the often dreamy beats.
There are a few missteps. "F.L.Y." has a pretty obnoxious hook that assumes we don't know how to spell fly. "Sleep" sounds a little too pop friendly, like something a toothless Eminem would rhyme over. "Science of Getting Rich" just sounds uncomfortable, like forced experimentation.
Still, Monkey Beezness is solid effort overall. It definitely surprised me with how long it stayed in my rotation. Check it out for yourself.
Quan Vu Quan Vu is the founder and editor of local music blog SD Raps.com. He has also written about local and national hip-hop acts for San Diego CityBeat and the San Diego Reader. You can nerd out on rap trivia by becoming BFF's on Facebook or e-mailing him directly.