The roles of the MC and DJ haven't changed much in hip-hop over the years. The MC is commonly seen as the frontman, the "voice" of the group, while the DJ acts as the silent "man behind the curtain," reliably and unassumingly bringing the beat. It's a proven dynamic, and there's no need to do away with it. But for the MC/DJ duo Jabrjaw and Dee Dubbs — better known as Jabbs & Dubbs — there's no reason to always stick with the script either. Their latest single "Cut Creators" turns the MC/DJ dynamic on its head, giving Jabbs & Dubbs equal time in the spotlight. A high-energy blast of ´90s-style turntablism, "Cut Creators" employs a call-and-response dynamic between rhyme spitter and beat scratcher.
"The idea was that Jabbs would say something, and then I'd respond with a scratch or sample, and vice versa," says Dubbs (nee Dan Wilkes). "I spent days going through records I thought might be cool for Jabbs to rhyme into or rhyme out of."
The B-side, "Songs Like These," is a slowed-down tune that's as soulful as it is melodic. An ode to the days when hip-hop was the product of turntables and not thousand-dollar computer programs, the song is an indictment of today's mainstream rappers. Or, as Jabbs puts it, "All these pitiful, digital unoriginal MCs/They don't make songs like these."
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No, they don't, which is why Jabbs & Dubbs find most of their samples in songs written decades ago. "We look to a lot of older music for making beats," says Jabbs (AKA Ryan Britt). "It's mostly funk, soul, jazz fusion — artists like Herbie Hancock, Booker T., Curtis Mayfield, James Brown, Otis Redding, and other Stax stuff."
Regarding the single itself: First, it's available on 12-inch vinyl, which — despite any predictable grumbling by the MP3-only crowd — serves a practical purpose. The record plays at 33 rpm, leaving plenty of room for extra tracks, of which there are six, including instrumental versions of the title tracks and a special treat for DJs.
"We included 'Dubbs Bonus Beats,' a track of samples," Dubbs says. "Even if a scratch DJ is into mainstream stuff, this is enough for them to buy the record."
Jabbs & Dubbs recorded and produced it at their home studio in Lantana. It was mixed and mastered by Chuck Hemann at Palm Beach Sound Studios. The duo released the record on their own label, Footwork4self, and have it for sale on www.ughh.com and www.fatbeats.com. To kick things off locally, they're planning a park party on November 15 in West Palm Beach. Details are still in the works but will be available on line when they're ready. Visit www.myspace.com/jabrjawdjdeedubbs.