Dudley Perkins 

A Lil' Light

Now that Madlib has opened up the Pandora's box of mutant jazz-funk for all to savor, the future of music is even more unstable. Luckily, there's another brilliantly eclectic eccentric lurking in the Stones Throw stable. Dudley Perkins is a bass-playin' vocalist from Oxnard who makes bugged-out jams that include everything you once loved about hip-hop (groovy basslines, obese beats, unique lyrics, dope scratching, interesting samples) and nothing you currently hate (tired rhymes, oversweetened choruses, predictable production).

"And so it was told/A new way, out with the old," Perkins says on "The Light," with a delivery somewhere in between singing, rapping, and spoken word. Other tracks, like "Washedbrainsyndrome" and "Forevaendless," offer up what honestly sounds like 30th-century soul music. Producer Madlib's touch is evident in the album's schizophrenic mix of voices, weird arrangements, and esoteric musical elements, but there's no denying the emotional quotient that's missing from above-ground rap is alive and well here.

Perkins' musical vision is so far forward it's almost retro, with an improvisational quality that arrives closer to a bebop or psychedelic soul paradigm than anything in rotation on corporate radio. The true mark of genius, however, is the number of nasty grooves Perkins is able to muster on his unorthodox compositions. Prominent use of stand-up bass ensures the album's solid rhythmic foundation, and the contrast between acoustic textures, sample loops, multitracked vocals, and booming electronic drums makes for an often sublime combination -- a def juxtaposition, you might say. It's that perennial "next shit" you've been waiting for.

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