In the extremely diverse culture of hip-hop, some emcees possess such a unique flow and cadence and still manage to show the listener a glimpse of what is inside their spirit. Declaime has always been a distinctive emcee in a world of imitators with gimmicks. The West Coast singer/emcee first came on the scene with his debut EP “Illmindmuzik”. His solo LP, “Andsoitissaid” was an intense and groovy masterpiece of smoked out philosophy and hip-hop attitude. With production by Madlib, Kan Kick, and Oh No, songs like “Move It”, “Uplift The Opposite”, and “Caliwayz” were classic little journeys into the mind of Declaime. The “M.A.D.M.E.N. On Arrival” EP (a collaboration project featuring Declaime, Kan Kick, and Poppy) was basically slept-on due to the extremely raw sound. In 2002, Declaime found himself and released “A Lil Light” on Stones Throw Records under his real name Dudley Perkins. The “A Lil Light” LP had Dudley Perkins singing, instead of rapping, over Madlib beats. Sometimes off-key and occasionally improvised, the LP was a breath of fresh air since it proved to the world that Declaime was an artist and not just a typical rapper. Finally, Declaime returns with his long awaited sophomore album, “Conversations With Dudley” on Up Above Records. Out of the 15 tracks, Oh No produces the first twelve and Madlib produces the remaining three. “Conversations With Dudley” displays Declaime’s serious, spiritual evolution. While the classic “Andsoitissaid” LP was somewhat loose with various themes and issues, “Conversations With Dudley” focuses on spirituality, family, and life itself.
On “Conversations With Dudley”, fans will immediately hear a more grounded Declaime with his feet on solid ground. In “Dearest Desiree”, he penned a poignant letter to his daughter, who is half a world away. Declaime raps, “…Dear Desiree / the letters I sent you, they came back / The gold chain I got you came back / Why’s your momma acting like that? / Kept us at a distance / I’m missing you on Christmas / darling Desire…” The pain can be heard with each syllable as he rides Oh No’s beat. In “Neverending (Remix)”, Perkins turns the table and becomes the child. He gives a heartfelt performance as he pens a verbal letter his father, who was never there for him. Declaime raps, “…It’s too late / Go ahead and break another heart / It’s too late / You should have been there from the start / It’s too late / Didn’t even try to play the part / It’s too late / Don’t turn your back on what is yours / It’s too late / I hear the baby mamma’s cry neverending…” The song “Welcome 2 Reality” features Lil Dap (of Group Home) and Grand Agent over a scratched chorus reminiscent of DJ Premier. The 3 emcees forged a strong bond since touring together in Europe. The magnificent track displays this bond with intensity. Sobering and intelligent, the song features the scratched vocal sample of Trugoy (of De La Soul) from “Stakes Is High”. In “Knowledge Born”, the electric bass line and strong rhythm adds to the emotion. “Shine Time” proves to be an anthem for inspiration. In the hook, Declaime urges the listener to take advantage of the moment, “…This is your time / Your time to shine / I take that from you / I take that from you…” Declaime is not just some smoked out emcee. These songs prove that he is not only spiritual and introspective, but also ultimately ambitious and insightful.
Spirituality is an important aspect of the “Conversations With Dudley”. Without preaching or forcing God on the listener, Declaime focuses on spirituality while delivering both an uplifting and philosophical message. “Heavenbound” is an exceptional song about Declaime’s need to ascend to Heaven in the afterlife. Without choosing or forcing a specific religion, Delcaime simply displays his need and desire for spiritual absolution. The opening track “Judgment” has the emcee rhyming about sin and lying. He raps, “Keep on doing wrong / Keep on telling lies” in the hook.
Philosophizing on life is another major aspect of “Conversations With Dudley”. On “Testimony”, Declaime rhymes “Life is a test” in the hook. In “Enjoy Your Stay”, Perkins suggests that life is fragile and that people should take advantage and take pleasure in the time given to them. The final track, “Life” also urges listeners to take advantage of time and suggests a beauty in personal freedom. Declaime raps, “It’s your life / Live it!”. While lyrically simple, the line is extremely effective. “Still Waters” is another track that displays the deep thoughts of Perkins. “Still waters run deep”, Declaime raps with authority.
As an emcee, Declaime finds a wonderful balance between flow and lyricism. He is lyrically and thematically accessible while extremely unique and underground. Like Sadat X, Declaime has a loose (almost free styled) flow and very unorthodox delivery. His classic debut “Andsoitissaid” had better beats but “Conversations With Dudley” displays a refreshing introspective and spiritual side of the artist. While “Andsoitissaid” had a handful of songs with a specific theme, every single track on “Conversations With Dudley” has Perkins addressing an emotional subject matter. From reality to God, or from his daughter to his father, Declaime gives himself to his music. Declaime’s “Conversations With Dudley” is one conversation we all should participate in.