Artist: Dudley PerkinsTitle: A Lil’ LightRating: 4 StarsReviewed by: Brolin Winning
Another gem from the folks at Stones Throw; A Lil’ Light teams up bombshelter brethren Madlib and Dudley Perkins (aka Declaime) for an appropriately blunted album highlighting DP’s positive lyrics and unique vocal stylings over an assortment of kaleidoscopic beats. Following dope singles like “Flowers” and “In G Major” (with Kid Sundance), this debut full-length flaunts his unusual crooning, full of multi-tracking/overdubs, soulful meandering, and weird squeaky voices.
After the brief, trippy intro track “You Really Know Me?,” things kick off with “Momma,” a smooth maternal dedication, backed by plump bass tones, snapping beats, and bubbling sounds. “Money” is all about the paper chase and those caught up in it, interspersed with various dialogue clips, dusty vinyl pops, and nice cuts. Jittery classical guitar loops drive “Yo’ Soul,” alongside simple but fresh, clap-laden drums, while the up-tempo “Muzak” flexes rowdy horns and some serious vocoder action.
One of the strongest selections is “Falling,” where Dudley addresses the troubles of the world, encouraging people to rise up and make a difference, over dramatic string samples, keys and harmonics. Other standouts include the heartfelt “Lil’ Black Boy,” the addictively funky “Just Think,” and “Gotta Go,” a chaotic anti-war jam with YNQ. The misleadingly titled “Forevaendless” flaunts an awesome guitar/bass loop, but cuts off before hitting the one-minute mark.
Like Quasimoto’s The Unseen, some listeners may be put off by the strange vocal inflections that permeate the record. Make no mistake, Dudley Perkins isn’t a rapper, he’s a singer. He often sings off-key, with raspy yet undeniably soulful pipes. It’s R&B in its truest, rawest form, before the genre became a watered down mix of interchangeable sex jams set to piles of keyboards. If you’re already familiar with joints like “Flowers,” (which is also included), then you know what you’re in for here. Bugged-out but never pretentious, A Lil’ Light may not burn up the dance-floor, but in terms of heavily weeded, ill-minded Oxnard funk, Dudley Perkins shines.