Friday, December 25, 2009

ARTIST SPOTLIGHT: Dillon serves Studies in Hunger

My brotha, my fam, my hip hop comrade Dillon (here for a more complete bio) dropped a new album Studies in Hunger. Representing Jacksonville, Florida and Atlanta, Georgia, Dillon will serve you like the glutton you are with the unique flavor of hip hop in the South. It's grimy, soulful, reverent to b-boy soundscapes, and well-studied in the execution of lyricism. And Dillon has been in the midst of this independent hip hop movement, and gathering from his latest album, he may be at the forefront.

I grew up with Dillon. In fact, he was my first friend (in fourth grade foo!) when I first moved to FL from CA. It was impressive to see the dude rock the show at TSI (see flyer above) to release his second album, which boasts a big name drop from Chuck D (who Dillon apparently cooked dinner for, but that's a different story) and rhymes from Akrobatic. Dillon has raised the bar, even when his first album (when he was known by the moniker MC Intellekt) was raw to the illest extent. His punchlines, cadence, and metaphors offer fun and smart wordplay.

Dillon defines himself on his own terms, moving away from Intellekt and becoming more confident in his own self, eccentricities and all. With knocks like "Stay Relative" paying homage to his family lineage, and as always, he includes drops from his mother and sister. "The greatest story you can tell is your own," he says.

And in Studies in Hunger you can tell Dillon and Paten Locke are having fun. Hip hop should be fun man!

And who is Paten Locke (and here)? Also known as Therapy, Paten Locke is one of Fil Am Funk's favorite producers. A member of the legendary J-Ville-grown Asamov crew (renamed the Alias Brothers), Locke knows the ear of the b-boy and lyricist enthusiast and he also holds down mic skills with authoritative command. Locke seems to capture a hip hop culture in Florida not known by many across the nation. Not the bouncy, T-Pain, Juvenile-type Southern hip hop, Locke captures the "4-elements" hip hop flavor that many folks in J-Ville and in the South (and yes, many Filipinos in the region) have been loyal to since the early 1980s. I documented a small bit of that scene in my short doc Hip Hop Mestizaje (see top right) in my interview with Alias Brothers Pinoy member DJ Basic. Studies in Hunger also continues an interesting candid, cartoony, pot-head-like stream-of-conscious skits utilized by the Asamov crew.

A mission of Fil Am Funk is to highlight hip hop culture from around the nation. The South has been slept on for a while. And just like Florida helped resuscitate the b-boy scene, if you're looking for quality hip hop music, Florida got what you need.

I found this 2006 article a while back, where Dillon aka Intellekt describes growing up with Pinoys and Pinays in J-Ville:

"'I learned from a young age how to stand out,' Intellekt said. He talks about his time growing up in Jacksonville, Florida, growing up as a white kid with a Filipino hip hop culture that 'totally determined where [he is] today,' cutting his teeth in talent shows to impress cute Filipino girls."

I'm glad these cute Filipino girls helped motivate a budding talent. Now, as a leading independent emcee, Dillon is creating music with a deeper hunger and ordering bigger plates. Get served.