First thing first: Clouddead’s Dose One has one of the most, uh, unique vocal timbres in all of rap (not rap). Allen Ginsberg with his balls in a vise? A cartoon goat? (Of course, turn down the quirk a notch or two and he’d be Chingy.) Clouddead are probably the best-known members of the Anticon collective (who interpret rap by taking the label name Big Dada at face value). Their hip-hop on Ten sounds like Labradford’s white-lite drones, a needle stuck in a musique concrète groove, tape noise culled from New Zealand indie bands, breakbeats retarded back to the Stone Age—sometimes all at once. They’re the type of band who ironically title a track “Pop Song.” (And with Dose hectoring and haw-hawing it up over top, the early Pop Group circa Y aren’t a bad comparison, really.)
Marketers and detractors alike will be eager to slot Clouddead alongside the emerging “emo rap” canon. (Attention rap fans: Not everything white people do is “emo.” Just 75 percent of it.) But Clouddead’s problem is their stubborn refusal to express anything. After all, a panoply of put-on voices is loads better than talking about, like, gurls, right? (Or maybe I’m just bitter for all the moments when, astounded by the beautiful sonix they seem to churn out in their sleep, I still can’t stop yelling, “Shut up, you nitwit.”) Here’s hoping they’ll eventually grow up and get stoopid. And if that’s impossible, a Clouddead instrumental LP would still rock my little novelty-impaired world.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on February 10, 2004