Creativity is one of the essential ingredients to ensure the continuous evolution of hip-hop. As two of the most creative forces in hip-hop, Prince Paul and Mr. Len have pushed the boundaries of conventional music. By stepping into different characters, Prince Paul used humor and style to create magnificently unique music. His refreshingly diverse solo albums (“A Prince Among Thieves”, “Psychoanalysis”, and “People Searching For Peace Of Mind Through Instrumental”) were enthrallingly innovative. Utilizing a copious amount of vocal samples, Paul created many songs without the need of an emcee or singer. His diverse collaborative projects (The Handsome Boy Modeling School, Deltron 3030) have also displayed his unique musical genius via creative themes, cinematic melodies, and weird fake personalities. The legendary producer has worked with De La Soul, Chris Rock, Stetsasonic, and countless others. Prince Paul’s humor, creativity, and eccentric style never disappointed his fans. 1/3 of the mythical indie hip-hop group Company Flow, Mr. Len’s cinematic production earned him a signature style. Dazzling the listeners, Mr. Len started Smacks Records and has released / produced a myriad of records. Mr. Len and Prince Paul are two naturally creative producers who deserve respect and admiration for their innovative discographies.
The Dix is Paul’s impressive new project about a fictional 50’s soul group attempting to reignite the flame of their legacy. Just as he stepped into the character of Chest Rockwell in The Handsome Boy Modeling School, Paul takes the role of Orgynius in The Dix. Fans are told that the group earned celebrity status in the late 50’s. Produced by Prince Paul (as Orgynius), “The Art Of Picking Up Women” is a fictional re-released EP (but actually their debut). Including 2 discs, the EP consists of one disc of music and a DVD which tells the group’s history. The fake background story (which tells us that they hail from Compton, New York) has fooled people. The Dix are the hip-hop version of Spinal Tap. True of false, the satirical past gives the group a deeper substance. The members include Orgynius, Peter O’Tool, John Handcock, Dik Gracin, Tro John, Don Jonsun, Magik Jonson, Burn Hard Gets (Mr. Len), and others. If the list of names does not make you skeptical of the group’s fallacious past, you may need to stop sniffing glue.
The humorous yet soulful songs (on disc 1) are instantly appealing. “Here Comes The Dix” introduces the group with a thick high-hat rhythm. With an obvious contemporary sound, the soulful 50’s/60’s elements is still penetrating. Some may feel that the song possesses too much humor or profanity yet; both elements enhance the music’s style and tone. The profanity also adds a gritty, ghetto edge to the group’s image. The only negative aspect of the song is the repetitive background vocals which are chanted the title throughout a majority of the song. This repetition does penetrate your head on the first listen. “Here Comes The Dix” is a magnificent introduction to their crazy, silly, sex-filled, double-entendre, soulful world. Next, “Tears In My Eyes (Dirty Girl)” is an extraordinary reggae love song about a bittersweet relationship. They find a perfect balance between humor and style while adding a pinch of poignancy. The song’s classic feel creates a timeless quality. Although the style has a classic soul tone, the lyrics, energy, and production are very modern. “…You are whore…”, is enchantingly sung by Peter O’Tool. The song’s core emotional element is displayed when he sings, “I’m not gonna cry now!” Lyrics Born once said, “There’s nothing better on God’s good green earth than reggae love songs.” This is a perfect example of how reggae can be special, fun, and timeless. Burn Hard Gets and Orgynius lead the soulful “I Luv U Girl”. Humorous in style while remaining romantic, the fun track is balanced by the emotion of love. Slightly reminiscent of “Mood For Love” (from Prince Paul’s “A Prince Among Thieves” LP), “I Luv U Girl” uses old soul music as a means to seduce. The song is too humorous to be taken seriously, but too extensive to be passed off as just a joke. “When I Come Home To You” tells about the warmth of love felt when a man returns home to his woman, after a long trip. Not as instantly appealing as the previous tracks, the song still maintains the project’s soulful essence. Prince Paul’s samples dazzle the listener on the “Outro To Women”. He utilizes a vocal sample of a woman chanting an odd nursery rhyme about “coming” too soon. Since only 5 out of the 7 tracks are actual songs, the album can be considered a premature ejaculation (or the little oral sex on the date before actual intercourse). The short EP leaves fans yearning for more Dix. The songs on disc 1 cannot completely pass as an old EP from the late 50’s, the humor and contemporary elements entertain on multiple levels.
The DVD (disc 2) is essential to the listener’s introduction to The Dix. The faux PBS documentary tells The Dix’s tale with the artists in elderly disguises. Prince Paul is excellent as Orgynius. His cigarette barely stays in his mouth as he leans back with a jazzy, doped up attitude. The Dix’s entire story is told with silly graphics, interesting photos, and comical interviews. For the old, live footage of the band, the obvious yet effective video manipulation adds to the joke. For their famous performance on The Ed Sullivan Show, their heads are actually pasted on the bodies of The Beatles. The interviews are also entertaining as the group speaks through their characters. They tell about sexual encounters with Marilyn Monroe. Majik Jonsun jokes about another past idol when he states, “I taught Elvis how to dance. N*gga bought me a Cadillac.” The fact that nothing is sacred proves that The Dix have balls. Like any other band documentary, the band’s downfall is more entertaining than the group’s farcical evolution. Drugs, egos, and women all stimulated problems. The members continue to talk trash about each other and leave the possibility of a reunion in question. Since the EP only has a handful of songs, the DVD (for disc 2) serves as an amusing introduction that adds quality to the purchase.
The wonder of The Dix is either a joke you get or misunderstand. Some listeners may not appreciate the humor behind the package. Others get the joke and welcome the witty effort. Negative critics may think they are stretching penis innuendos too far. Other negative critics may think the joke is childish. As listeners must choose a side, the soulful music is the determining factor. While the DVD and CD are filled with some immature humor, the strength of the music’s substance overpowers the obvious puns. Hardcore fans of the soul era may appreciate the style, but be turned off by the absurdity. True hip-hop fans should appreciate the ingenuity. While the fictional group is made up of people from the hip-hop culture, the unobvious hip-hop backbone is only evident deep within the style and energy. The vocal samples in the interlude tracks also give the music a hip-hop feeling. Basically, The Dix are singing soul music with a hip-hop energy.
The new millennium gave birth to a myriad of fictional bands like Gorillaz, The Handsome Boy Modeling School, and Deltron 3030. As fictional characters, artists can explore musical territories without being limited by their already defined image. Prince Paul has always been an innovator of clever hip-hop. His new project, The Dix is just another notch on his belt. Prince Paul and The Dix are extremely clever, obviously witty, and magnificently entertaining. Beyond the humor, fake story, and profanity, solid music and a delightful film exists. The fact that they are supposed to be a band from decades ago actually contributes to the music’s timeless quality. Unfortunately, the DVD may take away from the potency of the actual music, due to the cheap effects and apparent fictional past. The listener should attempt to separately enjoy both discs. Accept the music for the feeling. Accept the DVD for the imagination. Prince Paul and the crew deserve respect and acknowledgement for their creativity. Mixing classic soul sound with a modern style, The Dix’s exciting music defies categorization. While some may pass of the group as a joke, the farce does not disappoint. The story, the music, the men, and the product all have substance. The EP weaves a tapestry of masquerade with soulful singing, hilarious lyrics, creative yet childish humor, and thick beats. “The Art Of Picking Up Women” by The Dix ignites the mack inside and leaves you in the mood for a good ol’ time of hooking up with members of the opposite sex.