Support! Themselves – CrownsDown
Guess who’s back! It’s been about six years since we heard from the quintessential Anticon hip-hoppers, Themselves. Earlier this year however, Doseone and Jel resurfaced the Themselves moniker, with theFREEhoudini, a mixtape that was probably as impressive as it was slept on. It featured a bunch of original content, jam packed rhymes, and some previews of tracks that appear here on their new full-length, CrownsDown.
CrownsDown is literally a tornado. Let your mind wander for two seconds while listening to Doseone’s furious rhymes and Jel’s twisted beats, and the album may turn to a blur. It is hectic, disorienting, and at times hard to follow, even with repeat listens – but it’s all for a purpose, and this time it works. Dose’s rhymes are as crisp as ever, making it possible to dig a bit deeper into his internal rhyme schemes. And he’s got some things on his mind. Besides the usual freeform lyrics that frequent experimental hip-hop records, Dose is talking about the hip-hop industry, and the emotional pains of life. Best of all are the subliminal shots at a certain rapper (Themselves was never shy of a little underground beef). Check out the taunting rhymes on the brilliant “Oversleeping” a constant rap whirlwind that fires over Jel’s snappy electronic production that sounds like a distorted light-saber fight.
Jel is likewise operating on a fully charged battery here. The pacing of the album is almost perfect. The beats rage on relentlessly, suiting Dose’s rhymes very well. Jel splices his samples with careful attention to detail, layering them neatly on top of one another. The electronic beats indulge in delicious distortion, creating a crunchy sonic backdrop. But the production truly excels because there are thoughtful, at times atmospheric, melodies in place here as well. These melodies are best heard on “Daxstrong” and “Roman Is As Roman Does”, the latter being one of the albums finest cuts. Things momentarily slow down for the futuristic “You Ain’t It”, which is unfortunate since this track falls right in the middle of the album. However, some of the most mind-boggling nearly incomprehensible rhymes grace the track adding a welcome textural element.
CrownsDown is a dense album, and for all those lyric heads it will absolutely require many, many listens. Fortunately, there is content to be uncovered underneath the chaos. What is nice about this album, is that for those who simply want to take the album at face value, CrownsDown is accessible for its fun, energetic, and experimental approach. Either way you slice it, Themselves has put together a concise album that just kicks ass.