The WHOevers-Redtape review
My biggest fascination with The Whoevers-Redtape might be the theme. The cover is red with the iconic picture of Dr. J and Larry Bird in their famous 80’s choke pose. The first track (Walk These Dogs-Voodoo) uses Celtics legend and courtside homer Tommy Heinsohn along with his robot commentating partner for the hook. The theme is somehow this event but I’m not sure how. In all other ways Redtape is filed under the health food section with crisp powerful snares marking your re-entrance to a boom bap era you always tell your friends that you miss.
On “Keep It Cool” not much is actually said (DotKom does mention that he stays on point like a pyramid) but the chemistry between the two mc’s is unmistakable. Delivering a line and then letting the other come in. It all feels like part of a different era. On “BBQ (Bump That)”the same multitude of voices shout “BUMP THAT! BUMP THAT! BUMP THAT SH#T UP!” the way they did in the hotel-motel-holiday-inn days. The Whoevers show a dedication to letting the beat ride out once the verses are done. They don’t just ascribe to an old school philosophy; they represent the technical methodology of old school.
“How I Do” might give the best lyrical example of the Redtape attitude. The first verse specifies “A rock in a hard place. Not that rock that went ahead and played Scarface, I’m talking bout that rock so I could ball all day.” Dan Majerle and Charles Barkley get name checked, none of this music is about impressing you with toughness or wealth. None of this is dark or brooding or lyrically challenging. Its party rocking head nodding music, which is a double edged sword; a song like “Episodin’Pt. II: A Day in the Life” can make you miss those De La Soul, Tribe days but while you are reminiscing you might miss the uniqueness of DotKom and J Arthurs collaboration.
It’s hard for two solo artists to become a group that makes sense. It means giving up solo possession of the songs narrative and the reason the Whoevers evoke the classical age is not just the beats, piano, chorus, it’s the lack of individual ego. The oneness of the Redtape goes beyond cohesion. Not one song seems out of place, but not one song (aside from Midnight Magic…maybe) raises its head over the others. Redtape doesn’t feel immediate, dangerous, or bold. I could play The Whoevers for your parents and I wouldn’t be worried.
As a throw back tape it never feels like an accusation towards the new school. It just feels like two people coming together to form a group they would want to listen too. I come back to it fairly frequently because as ascetically good natured as it is, you can count on it. You never know whether experimental artists are going to fall flat or not. Redtape won’t. Poverty, racist politics, and the search for your greatest success to come are still a part of this music; the serious topics get name checked right alongside Charles Barkley, Scuba Diving, and Tempura.
The Redtape theme is not a fight between Bird and Dr.J but the warmth of our hip hop musical and cultural memory. The joy of flashing back so you don’t forget where you came from as you move forward.
Check out Redtape below, you can download(and name your price) or just stream.