Release Date: Apr 22, 2016
Record label: Profound Lore
“A fat motherfucker in a culture that’s malnourished” - on LP number seven, and their first in as many years, Dälek aren’t pulling any punches. The seminal hip hop duo, formed between DJ Oktopus and MC Dälek in the late Nineties, had all but fizzled out after their last major transmission - 2009’s Gutter Tactics. But seven years on, and with a renewed vigour and ambition, MC Dälek (aka Will Brooks) resurrected the project with an all new line-up.
Given hip hop's longevity, global reach, and power as a paradigm-changing social force, it's still relatively rare when rap artists make a splash with a coherent, actionable left-wing message. Of course, Public Enemy and KRS-One gave audiences a new vocabulary for questioning the power structure, which the majority of hip-hop acts rail against in some form or another anyway. Today, we can point to several contemporary acts—The Coup, Immortal Technique, Killer Mike, etc.—whose rhetoric follows the same path, but none can claim to be as musically subversive as Dälek, an outfit that almost two decades ago fulfilled hip-hop's potential to exist in an alt/underground/experimental universe while staying true to its roots.
Review Summary: Sunrise, sunset, change seasons. Dälek’s music has been accused of being political only in the vaguest sense, which implies that a connotation of politics requires explicit followthrough for validation; but, if anything, the industrial hip-hop group’s music is indicative of grounded frustration. In a 2005 interview with Morphizm, MC Dälek (Will Brooks) denounced any suggestion that America has progressed in terms of racial acceptance, at least beneath surface level.
Will Brooks’ on-off New Jersey hip-hoppers return on their umpteenth label for one more assault on your eardrums. Formed in 1998, they are among a number of acts looking to fill the gap left at rap’s blast centre when Public Enemy parted company with wall of noise producers The Bomb Squad. The crucial element in that partnership was that, though it could be thunderous, it was always based on (abrasive) elements of funk – a balancing exercise most pretenders to the throne haven’t been able to manage.
Iremember when I saw Dälek back in 2008, at an ATP festival curated by Mike Patton and The Melvins. The band came out on stage all riled up, with frontman Will Brooks making his presence felt by giving the wild-eyed DJ Oktopus (Alap Momin) a fist-bump on the shoulder that was so charged with focused intensity that it came across as a full-blown punch. Reaching the edge of his pedestal, he informed the mainly rock-aware festival-goers that, contrary to the half-drunken questions he’d received earlier that day, he was in fact “not Kool Keith.” Then he and the group began proving this, bombing through a set that put the rest of the lineup to shame for its explosive indignation and overwhelming volume.
Where bands would once dramatically split, in recent years this trend has been seemingly replaced with the more friendly-sounding ‘hiatus’. Underground New Jersey hip-hop act Dälek entered theirs in 2011 only to reform with little warning last year and, as with most reformations, after a tour focusing on old material follows the often nail biting proposition of a new album. Dälek, with Asphalt For Eden, are no different.