By Chris Pacifico
It seems as if hip-hop labels are a dime a dozen these days. Lots of them have artists that are ripping up the charts as well as the rotation slots on MTV with their multi-million dollar videos, but none of that matters if you don't have the talent. When it comes to credibility and skills, the Bay Area label Quannum is the one that has the most of both these days. People may know the label as the one started by Blackalicious and the legendary underground Sole Sides collective; however, Quannum is expanding its horizons by getting international with Brazilian wonder kid Curumin on his spicy world-gumbo release Achados E Perdidos and a somewhat more jazzy trip-hop edge with the debut Cliquety Kliqk from General Elektriks. But if there is one under-the-radar group that deserves your attention, it is most assuredly Apsci.
Apsci, short for the term "applied science," is the married duo of Ra and Dana (pronounced Donna). Ra is a native of Teaneck, NJ, and Dana is a classically trained vocalist who sang in the Australian opera. They met through mutual friends. As Dana recalls, "I met him in front of a club, so I walked up to him and introduced myself and he gave me this mad attitude. I then walked away thinking, 'Wow, I never have to talk to that guy again.'" Later on that year, their paths crossed again as they worked together at a studio, and Dana thought, "Shit, not this guy again! But I really liked how he worked in the studio." From that point on, Apsci was born.
On their debut album Thanks for Asking, Apsci pushes the envelope as they exhibit a razor-sharp lyrical bravado that merges hip-hop with electronica flourishings. "West Coast hip-hop is big in Australia," says Dana. "As a kid, I listened to a lot of house, disco, and garage, and my older siblings were into hip-hop. So our music is a bit of a marriage of everything."
Not only is the track listing on Thanks for Asking eclectic, but so is the guest list, which features the rank-and-file of underground hip-hop such as Mr. Lif and Pigeon John, as well as members of TV on the Radio and the Antibalas Afrobeat Orchestra.
Apsci got the attention of Quannum after Chief Xcel of Blackalicious saw the video for the electro break-beat-induced track "Tirade Highway," which led to Apsci joining the roster of the Quannum family. And they have hit the ground running ever since, including tours through America and Europe.
Ra and Dana, who were fans of Quannum artists before they were signed, know how fortunate they are to be on a rather prestigious underground label. But as Ra recalls, "It wasn't until I met Chief Xcel and Gift of Gab (of Blackalicious) that I knew there were people on their level who were that disciplined and that focused. I was inspired."
ApSci Live in Concert
Inspired is what Apsci leaves the listener feeling as the duo shows that they are the purveyors of a bold new movement in hip-hop. It's a movement in which creativity is embraced and vision pushed. While they are both on point with their lyrical delivery, it's their beats that will light up just about any dance floor. By joining Quannum and releasing their spectacular Thanks for Asking Apsci are fixing to be major players in the future of hip-hop.
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