Support 88Nine And This Artist:
Nas was the first to say it: Hip Hop is dead. Some rap fans agreed and wondered aloud where has all the originality and creativity in Hip Hop gone? The carbon copied rap robots promoted by major labels and commercial radio leave one to ponder that even with glimmers of hope such as Kanye, Lupe, The Roots & Talib, will Hip Hip ever evolve from its dumbed down state? Rolling Jack Records has found part of the answer in its new act THE HIGH DECIBELS.
Here to show you that Hip Hop isn’t all about commercialism and the rigamoro, THE HIGH DECIBELS are like a musical Molotov cocktail, mixing hip hop, old school rock, and superfunky blues. Featuring two MCs and a crackerjack live band, the group slides easily between classic rap and rock styles bringing a brash, adventurous spirit back to hip hop with feelgood music and uplifting lyrics.
Frontman Duke Johnson, an East Oakland native, started freestyling at the age of 12 in the schoolyard with some friends, including his current HD partner, hypeman Chief. His first live performance was at a talent show at a local high school. Mid - performance his show CD started skipping and the audience booed him offstage. Young and inexperienced, Duke’s confidence level was shot. "After that", says Duke, "kids at my school who heard about the performance started booing me in the hallways just to rub it in."
The experience understandably pushed Duke away from rap, but the desire to perform and the urge to rhyme still lived within. He was drawn to spoken word and poetry as a creative outlet. Equipped with plenty of subject matter from his experiences living in Oakland, he gathered his confidence and entered a few poetry slam events. Wowing crowds with real life depictions of struggles, sufferings and shootings (one he witnessed at the tender age of 8), Duke soon became a top ranked slam poet in the Bay Area.
It was at a slam event in Berkeley where Duke caught the interest of a successful rock/funk producer and guitarist, KC Booker of Big Soul. Witnessing “The Duke Experience” got KC’s wheels turning and he invited the poet to come by his studio. "I had always pictured mixing hard, funky blues with a real rapper like Duke," says KC, "and the minute he recorded a vocal track, I knew we had something totally different from anything else out there."
Bringing Duke’s childhood buddy Chief into the mix as a hypeman was the final essential ingredient. Coupled with a live band and Chief's raw, physical energy onstage, the HIGH DECIBELS shows are a kinetic experience (hence the groups name),. Their genre-crossing musical style, coined Rock Hop Blues, has helped them appeal to all ages, races and creeds. With live instrumentation, palpable subject matter and lyrics, plus a broad fanbase it seems that Hip Hop is still alive and kicking, and has evolved into original groups such as THE HIGH DECIBELS. Go and see for yourself.