In a time when the genre of hip-hop is resonating with the sound of redundancy and conveyor belt creativity, 26-year old Detroit-based DIAL81 (born Blair French) brings an innovative and inventive flavor to the genre with his wit laced rhymes and delectably unorthodox beats.
Raised in the suburbs of Clawson, just north of Detroit, French’s musical voyage began in the 8th grade when he released his first four track cassette tape with a young group. This project acted as a musical catalyst for the ripe emcee, transforming him into a musical nomad seeking out a place in hip-hop to call his own. For a number of years of weaving in and out of styles and hip-hop ventures, honing his skills as an emcee with such projects as F.R.eeze, Level Jumpers, Formless Figures, and Cosmic Handshakes. These collaborative efforts helped French travel the landscape of hip-hop allowing him to develop geography all his own within the genre-a cross-pollination of sharp tongued lyricism and unconventional beats.
For French, the new millennium would prove to be one of both personal and artistic growth. In 2002, at only twenty, he opened up for award-winning, rap giant, Ludacris. In the same year he began to learn how to produce with the guidance of free form producer, Fahrenheit 2040. French’s ever blossoming knowledge of music would mold him into a musical shape shifter and yielded to impressive collaborations with plant-e artist, Jason :brownstudy Hogans, Fat Beats recording artist, Count Bass D, and Parliament Funk’s, Larry Frantangelo, to name a few.
French’s intrinsic desire to learn both from a musical perspective and as a budding business man found him booking his own shows at Dally In The Alley, The Berkley Front, The Emerald Theater, and Black Lotus Brewery, as well producing his own albums, slanging mix tapes from the sidewalks of Detroit to clubs in Canada, screen printing Dial 81 shirts, and designing his own album art.
Like any artist, polished by his experiences, DIAL81’s music emulates that of his everyday life. “People are so used to clean, perfect music. My life isn’t like that,” the charismatic emcee/producer confesses. French’s observations about the changing face of a genre are crisp, frank, and much welcomed. His ability to craft songs that are bright yet familiar stems from his varied musical travels throughout his 26 years and his diverse ear for music (check his crates and you’ll find anything from Leonard Cohen to Wu Tang Clan, Roy Ayers to Blondie).
Blair’s influences have deviated comprehensively from the sanitary sound of recent trends-citing Skylab, Jeru, Ray Johnson, Edan, and Rakim as artistic muses. His eclectic hip-hop sound is a symphony of funk, soul, jazz and psychedelic beats interspersed with witty humor and razor sharp interpretations. As a hybrid creature blending cinematic lines that beckon sci-fi, Eastern philosophy, Nuwaubic studies, and an unsullied skill for metaphor, DIAL81’s sound is precisely for those looking for a healthier diet of hip-hop.
His full length album, Box Car Portal, is slated for release in mid-spring of 2008 and the video for the “dehydration” is available on YouTube.com now. For more information, check out DIAL81 at www.myspace.com/dial81.
No Pingbacks for this post yet...
This post has 3 feedbacks awaiting moderation...