John Doe’s crates are better than yours. A member of the Cincinnati-based 1200 Hobos and co-founder of Uneasy Alliance, Doe’s Popular Fallacies is a seamless turntable piece that sounds like it could have been a live recording — if it weren’t so flawlessly executed.
Like the hieroglyphs featured on the album’s cover, Popular Fallacies hints that deejaying is an underground influence and classic element inherent in pop-culture entertainment. Both the track listing and the numerous sound clips of popular movies mask a convoluted mix of obscure musical references to people like Ras Kass, James Brown and Public Enemy. And I’ve always been a sucker for anyone who samples “Boom” by Royce the 5’9″.
Using sound clips as transitions between instrumental sections, Popular Fallacies may appear a little epileptic at first, but the listener will eventually adjust to his mix of lyrical motives. Unlike most deejays, who will locate an instrument or a specific note as a point of transition in their mixing/editing, Doe effectively uses the language of hip-hop as his musical turnstile. What is attractive about Doe (and his contemporaries like Cut Chemist and Kid Koala) is that his tracks are compiled under the pretext of a reasonable and working knowledge of the material spun.
I don’t want to hear train whistles and echoing deejay names and bombs exploding as a musical semi-colon to different ideas, like some crap radio-deejay mixes you hear today. But it took me a half an hour to figure out that on “Anaylze This,” Doe blends Gang Starr’s “Step into the Arena” into Premier’s sample from the original Thunder and Lightning cut used in “DWYCK.” Doe’s “Payback” begins with a blend of Black Sheep’s “Be Faithful” and a little Brooklyn Zoo beat, eventually working it into the lyrics of EPMD’s “Payback.” Naturally, the motive ends with the horns of James Brown’s cut of the same title.
Doe flaunts his familiarity with hip-hop trivia, like your asshole friend who not only knows the name and hometown of the guy who played “Corky Thatcher” on Life Goes On (Chris Burke), but has purchased one of his albums. But one listen to Popular Fallacies is worth thousands of others — it even forced me to break out discs that I haven’t listened to in years. This recording is clearly an act of premeditated murder, but its assembly and attention to authentic hip-hop detail will allow the defense to claim it was a “crime of passion.” My favorite track is “Commercial,” which features samples from what sounds like television and radio ads old and new breaking up the music. And John, did I hear Grandpa Simpson in there?