Dumb is the New Fun
Writer LiAnn Ishizuka counts one, two, three reasons to check out Dumbfoundead's new album, Fun with Dumb.
Published: Friday, June 19, 2009
In 2008, I named Dumbfoundead (Jonathan Park) as the number one underground artist to watch out for. Dumb's recent album release Fun with Dumb shows us why.
Listening to Fun with Dumb feels a lot like sharing some good stories with friends: there are conversations about cockblockers, the junior college path, girlfriends who give unconditional support, dreams of one day making it big. There's even a 43-second ode to weed. But it's not all just fun and games. In "K-Town Story" Dumb reminds us to remember "the reason why our parents brought us here" -- that ignorance doesn't always equate to bliss. The message gets more critical in "Bullets of Truth," which consists of a high energy rap about immigrant struggles and government wiretapping. Inspired by one of my favorite tracks off the albums, "1st, 2nd, 3rd," here's are three reasons to cop Fun with Dumb.
Production by Los Angeles DJs Tokimonsta, D-Styles and Soulspeak gives this album some homegrown roots from this local Project Blowed Thirsty Fish. The mixing from DJ Zo adds fun special effects, including a whole track ("Fun with Zo") that pieces clips from the infamous Dumbfoundead vs. Tantrum battle with Robin William's iconic Good Morning, Vietnam and some memorable lines off the Beef IV DVD. The beats complement Dumb's smooth rap and steady tempo. Dumb is able to spit smart lyrics without getting worked up, and he makes it flow naturally with the music. But perhaps it's more than just the fancy finger-work that makes this album special. The album features some tight appearances by respected underground MCs like Abstract Rude, Aceyalone and Nocando. The "She Don't Care Remix" features Intuition and Nocando and uses a familiar Lupe Fiasco beat from the "Paris, Tokyo" track, praising women who stay committed to their men. It's the combination of synthesizing beats and tight collaborations that makes this one of the first reasons to give Dumb some praise.
Forget Cheerios, when you can eat Rapper-O's! It's not really food that Dumb's rapping about. It's the wack emcees he eats for breakfast, "the ones that barely rock," creating an anthem which promises to give the needed confidence and sugar-coated goodness to keep artists on their game. The track "Rapper-Os" brings new meaning to playing with your food and adds clever comedy to the Fun with Dumb album. All this talk about food reminds me of Cool Calm Pete's "The Food Theme" soundtrack. Cool Calm Pete is also featured as a guest producer on the "She's Built" track, where he mixes some bulldozer sounds as well as audio from the 90s sitcom Home Improvement. Dumb keeps the laughs going in "Cockblockers," describing the three types of cockblocks: fat friend, guy friend, and family friend. Definitely one that resonates more with the guys, but it's a track that is funny nevertheless. This brings us to the second bonus track, "Junior College." Dumb reassures kids that there's always Junior College, and his own story about having 3PM classes and a seven-year plan is both a humorous and possible reality. In any case, Dumb's sarcasm and somewhat lewd caricatures provide a second reason for another rotation spin.
If you didn't catch the hype from the Dumbfoundead vs. Tantrum battle back in late 2008, you can still replay the audio at the end of Fun with Dumb. Dumb fittingly ends his album with the three-round victories against fellow Asian American rapper, Tantrum. The audio itself is enough to be a third reason to get this album. Dumb dominates at freestyle and has the talent to earn the respected rapper status. Last weekend, Dumb won the grand prize at the first annual Kollaboration Hip Hop & Laugh-Off, where he was even rocking the mic as MC for a bboy freestyle performed by South Korea's Project Soul Collective. The bottom line is that Dumb can command crowds and rock mics, whether it's live or on a homemade album. Dumb recently announced a 40-stop college tour, "Open Enrollment: Hip Hop Is Back In Session," featuring the rest of his Thirsty Fish crew, Nocando, Thavius Beck, K the I, Serengeti.