There are bands you know almost nothing about and maybe that’s exactly what makes you curious and draws you to listen to them. A perfect example is Dos Monos (literally “Two Monkeys” in Spanish), an experimental Hip Hop trio whose members are Zo Shit, Taitan Man and Botsu: not many pictures or information on them are available and the world they create with the atmosphere of their beats is weird, wonky and destabilizing and it adds up to the mysterious aura that surrounds them.
Their main influence is obvious: they drive
inspiration from old school Hip Hop (or a sound that can be linked to it),
first and foremost the Wu-Tang Clan and they re-elaborate
it in a more current and experimental way, creating a sound that finds itself
in a limbo between old and new, reminding very much of Madlib and MF
Although their influences are a bit too much on their sleeves, the trio manages not to give off a “already heard it” vibe and instead keeps taking you further with each track but still keeping its feet rooted in the classics.
The lyrics are mainly in Japanese with a few English sentences which, with their pronunciation, sounds like a completely different language and the topics vary from a Sci-Fi/grotesque/comical theme to the other but still keeping a constant narrative and describing even serious topics underneath a mask made of irony. The biggest issue with the lyrics is that they suffer from the “Dos Monos” effect as well and I couldn’t find most of them even in Japanese. From a lyrical standpoint though the trio is nothing to laugh at: flows are original and very well structured and wordplay and metaphors are on point as well. The only complaint is the language that doesn’t allow for easy rhyming and forces the rappers to use mostly internal rhymes, which initially throws you a bit off but, after a few listens, draws you like a tornado into their world.
Theater D starts with a traditional Japanese music sample, which is then applied on a powerful, decided and lively drum. Here the three artists’ lyrical capabilities, especially Bostu’s, shine in all of their glory with metric genius and acrobatic flows: an excellent opening to start an album with.
One of the weirdest tracks from a topic standpoint is Clean Ya Nerves (Cleopatra), lyrics that talk about futuristic androids in a dystopian future with many references to ancient Egypt, basically a Stargate episode. Over a distorted siren accompanied by a piano and a relentless drum, the three paint some grotesque and absurd images that sound like they’re coming straight from a Sci-Fi Splatter movie. Specifically Taitan Man’s verse is particularly well written and its closeness to reality makes it almost creepier than the others.
Daimyō is completely different and with its Japanese sounding melody sung à la beatbox, its chimes and its drums that sound like taiko (traditional Japanese drums) it creates an atmosphere that sound like a modern historical reinterpretation of the tradition. Only Zo Shit raps here, starting with a Trap-flavored triplet flow and proceeding with a more fluid and calm one that constantly changes, lyrically reminding of the Buddhist idea of adapting to everything like flowing water.
Agharta is clearly intended to be a tribute to Miles Davis (the title is the same as one of his albums) but the instrumental is much more influenced by a typical Tokyo style of Hip Hop. The city is also a background for the lyrics that focus on interior philosophical discussions and insecurities that are born from the sense of isolation you feel living in a metropolis –like the Japanese capital is– so close to a myriad of people, yet all of them completely sunk into themselves and isolated from the rest of the world. The beat itself is very evocative and it’s able to perfectly capture with sounds the atmosphere of Tokyo.
Dos City is an experimental album that doesn’t shy away from daring and altering what normally is considered a “staple” of music and that draws you with its weirdness in a world where the language barrier doesn’t exist anymore: whether you speak Japanese or not, the beats express the concepts in a more than exhaustive manner and, most importantly, they’re produced with incredible creativity and precision. The flows that the three rappers use complete the job perfectly and never sound out of place over the instrumentals. As a debut album, Dos City is definitely a big step in the right direction.