Dumbfoundead is the real deal
After my last post about my disappointment in the path Far East Movement is headed, I thought it would be appropriate to bring some optimism back to this blog. With an album finally on the horizon (maybe), it is a good time to introduce Dumbfoundead to those of you who aren’t familiar.
I first discovered Dumbfoundead the same way as many of his other early supporters–through his battle videos on Youtube. He caught my eye for a couple of reasons. First, there hadn’t been an Asian American freestyler with this level of skill since Jin. Second, because I got to witness a battle between two AA rappers for my first time.
I was a little bothered by the use of so many Asian stereotype jokes at first. Then I noticed just how much better Dumb was than Tantrum (though honestly, Tantrum wasn’t very good here). I did the usual when I find an interesting Youtube video and watched a bunch of Dumb’s Grind Time videos. A couple of hours later, I was already convinced that he was talented. The question then was whether he can do anything beyond battling. As we saw with Jin, being good at freestyles does not necessarily imply good writing. At least, not without a lot of fine-tuning. Our community could really use some talented, no-bullshit-taken artists to represent us in all genres of music. While there is a lot of racism in music, enough people can recognize and respect real talent that I feel it is a battle that can be won.
His early recordings were ok, but wasn’t distinguished from all the Myspace hip hop that was around at the time. I still saw potential and was getting frustrated that everything didn’t quite come together. There were great lines, but the production was a little off. If the production was good, his delivery didn’t match as well as it should. Even when I heard Fun with Dumb, his second album, I still found something to be lacking. Looking back, it may have just felt like a lack of focus in the direction in the album.
Since then there has been word of an album coming out, but it never happened. Instead, he became a lot more active on Youtube and focused on putting out free tracks, mixtapes, and live recordings. He released some Youtube-only tracks like Clouds (with Clara C and Jay Park) to start it off. Up in the Air was a choose-how-much-you-pay single, showing us that he is capable of more experimental music. Since then he’s worked more closely with Dj Zo, with mixtape of more experimental tracks called Cut + Paste. He did an awesome cover of a Bruno Mars song. He released some work with another talented MC with Wax. He worked with Jin and Timothydelaghetto on Charlie Sheen. Most recently he started recording more videos like Selfish Man, showing that he can be better in a live recording than a lot of people can in the studio. The list goes on and on.
There are a few reasons why I want Dumbfoundead to succeed, and not just financially. I like good and honest hip hop in general, so naturally I’m already a supporter. The more important reason for this blog is because he represents everything I wish to see in an AA musician. He’s talented, enough so that most people can see past the fact that he is Asian. He is undoubtedly American at heart. He is aware of AA issues and addresses them, but does not overdo it so much that it becomes a tired topic in his music. He respects the land of his ancestry; he can still speak some Korean and maintains a good connection with Korean hip hop artists. For example, he used a beat by GDragon and TOP for one of his videos:
In other words, he’s not so insecure, not trying so hard to prove he’s an American rapper that he would need to distance himself from Asian culture. Oh, and he’s not afraid to call out Asian stereotypes once in a while (1:40 in the above video).
In fact, he dedicated a verse in his new single, Are We There Yet, to his mother’s struggles to make it to LA. He’s not afraid; he’s making it a clear aspect of his identity as an artist. He has the right attitude, the ability to gain support from Asian and non-Asian listeners alike, and the talent to back it up. What’s not to respect about this man?
Check out his new single below.