Boston-based MC and hip hop producer D-Tension is back with another album of killer beats, wicked lyrics, and righteous indignation.
The album starts with “Fresh,” which itself starts with a sample of someone saying, “Beats are the worst. Nobody likes beats.” D-Tension then proceeds to slice and dice through jaw-dropping beats provided by DJ Emoh Betta. D-Tension is “Fresh like Febreeze” when he enters a room, and immediately gets your attention with his skills. “Godly” brings rhymes from indie rappers Diamond D and A.G. Diamond talks of being godly on the mic and D-Tension warns other MC’s of faking it (“This hip hop shit’s much more than a hobby.”). A.G. proclaims he was “resurrected between Third and Cypress,” name checking other hip hop gods out of respect.
“What Happen to That” (featuring Akrobatik on guest vocals) is a groovy track with D-Tension reminiscing about “when bad meant good” and when you could still hook up to free electricity at the basketball court and throw your own party there. He admits it wasn’t all great times, however, and how things are much different now. “Landlord Song” is a great example of D-Tension’s humor as he blasts his landlord for renting him a place with broken air conditioning, plumbing leaks, and gouging him on rent.
“Do You Comprehend” is a sizzler with guest vocalists Pace Won and M Dot. The looped baritone sax is great, as are the rhymes – such as Pace Won thinking his life is so screwed up he should just chuck hip hop and go play for the Lions or Rams. “Deal with the Devil” isn’t another song about D-Tension’s lease with his landlord, but rather about how D-Tension takes down inferior MC’s.
“Young Love” is a song about “the ones who got away” and D-Tension’s crushes as far back as fourth grade and being the only Puerto Rican in the small Indiana town where he attended middle school. It’s all true. Full disclosure: I was there. D-Tension and I were pals in middle school. He was the funniest guy I knew then, and he’s still among the funniest people I know now.
“Scandalize” has D-Tension name checking Bruno Sammartino and Devo in the same verse, so that alone makes the track outstanding. “Roaches,” with its jazz lounge groove, is, believe it or not, a song about the gentrification of his old neighborhood and D-Tension being baffled at how the hipsters, artists, and new landlords eliminated the pests that plagued him and his friends all their lives. “Talk White” slams racism, economic inequality, and educational disparity with D-Tension’s slick mic work.
The Rolling Stones loop on “Piss You Off” alone is worth the purchase price of this record as D-Tension admits being “king of the prank” and how much he enjoys ribbing others. The album ends with “Rosebud,” an ode to D-Tension’s first love – a blue Schwinn bike.
Zen is a path of simplicity. “Every day life is the path,” as Zen master Nan-Sen once said. Yet we shouldn’t forget that some Zen masters carried a big stick to crack us across the back to shatter our illusions and bring us back into the moment. D-Tension acknowledges his past, but doesn’t stay mired there. He’s too busy making rent money and embracing the now. The Violence of Zen is his stick waking us from our open-eyed slumber.
Keep your mind open.
[I’ll crack you with a stick if it will remind you to subscribe here and now.]