Better known as Haj, the man behind Dumhi and producer behind albums such as “Indian Summer” and “Flowers”, has just released one of the year’s best this past Tuesday with “The Jungle”, and not many people seem to know about it. As with past releases from the Illadelph native, Dumhi’s albums have told a story, “The Jungle” is no different. Boasting production that comes off like Prince Paul on steroids, but void of all the sporadic quirkiness, Dumhi has laced “The Jungle” with hard, rolling drum patterns, clever samples, a few instrumental cuts (“Walk The Streets” and “The Jungle”, the later of which, sounds like it could have been included on DJ Shadow’s seminal LP, “Entrouducing”) and skits that take each track on the album to a poignant close and detail inner-city life in Philadelphia. However, on this occasion, Dumhi has brought along his Philly fam for the ride (Reef, Ethel Cee, Random, etc.) and the Lessondary family states it’s case on “The Jungle” as well, with notable appearances from Elucid, Jermiside and Che Grand. At only 11 tracks deep, “The Jungle” doesn’t hold much margin for error. Yet, on the same token, it’s void of all the wastage that’s normally inclusive on an 18-track LP.
Featuring one of the most commanding deliveries and voices in underground Hip Hop, the album’s opener (minus the intro “Only The Strong Survive”) “No Redemption” finds Lessondary-affiliate, Elucid paying homage to O.C.’s “Time’s Up” with the opening lines: “You lack the mineral(s) and vitamin(s)..”. Dumhi’s production tactics are defined on “No Redemption”, quick hitting drum kicks that won’t necessarily rattle your trunk, but still pack enough bottom to be heard around the block, find themselves tucked away below a horn riff that could just as easily find a home amongst earlier Native Tongue workings from the likes of Black Sheep or the Jungle Brothers. The album’s first leak/single from “The Jungle”, the Reef The Lost Cauze-led “Philly Cousins” and the Random, Ethel Cee-featured “Dumhi Cannons” are quietly making their respective “rounds” on the internet. While the prior, “Philly Cousins”, follows Dumhi’s tried and proven formula of rolling drum kicks and semi-distorted bass, the later “Dumhi Cannons” is a nice variance of tempos for the album without salvaging or varying from “The Jungle’s” somewhat serious, battle rap theme. Don’t get it twisted, Random and Ethel Cee more than carry their weight on “Dumhi Cannons”, it’s just that this track really (for lack of better wording) stands out amongst the remainder of the album. Not “lighthearted” in the least, but “..Cannons” is on the opposite end of the spectrum when compared to the “take no prisoners” attitude displayed by Reef on “May Get Murdered” (yet another stand-out cut from the album). All you Primo heads out there will instantly recognize the sample that supplies the backbone for “The Knife” (f. Reef and Burke The Jurke), but I like how Dumhi has flipped it in this instant, making the sample barely recognizable.
“The Jungle” along with the production and emcee features that can be found on this album is underground Hip Hop at it’s finest. It’s especially sweet, when this type of album emerges from my home state. Yet, even if I was from Alaska, “The Jungle” would still be on repeat in my headphones. Fast-forward five years from now, “The Jungle” won’t astound anyone with units moved, but it will be respected in a manner that us old-headz hold in high regard, albums such as “Contemporary Jeep Music”, “A Wolf In Sheep’s Clothing”, “Da Dirty 30″ seem to come to mind.
Apollo Brown held it down for Detroit with “The Reset” (another producer themed album) and just as effectively, Dumhi has duplicated those same glaring results with “The Jungle”. However, in this instance, Dumhi has blessed Philly with it’s own well-deserved shine. Taking it back to early ’60s gang life in Philly, Dumhi has proved that in the “city of brotherly love”, the more things change, the more they stay the same. Word to Schooly D! Put up your 10 bones, cop this ‘ish and “Thank Me Later”, Dumhi is Dum-Good….