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Looking at DTMD, you wouldn’t think they were a hip-hop duo, much less one of the promising young rap groups in the D.C. region.
Dunc is a scrawny white kid, but his thumping beats show an affinity for ’60s classic soul and the ’90s percussive boom bap. Toine, whom we last heard trading bars with Oddisee on “Different Now,” looks more like a pre-med major at Howard University than an impressive, upstart MC.
On Makin’ Dollas, which is out this Tuesday, DTMD proves its musical worth while paying homage to late ’80s rap group EPMD (Eric and Parrish Making Dollars). But unlike that duo, whose aesthetic was steeped in sample-heavy instrumentals and lyrical arrogance, DTMD has an understated approach, relying heavily on atmospheric soul loops and reflective musings to get its point across.
That’s not to say the group lacks confidence, though. “I train with the best MCs, to run raps around tracks ’til I rest in peace,” Toine raps on the title track. Sonically, Makin’ Dollas moves at a slow pace for a rap album, which is surprising yet refreshing.
And it’s clear that Toine has something meaningful to say, but he wants his peers to do the same. “This hip-hop ain’t about pushin’ a two-seater or knowing a few divas, blowin’ a lil’ reefer or new sneakers,” Toine raps on “The Struggle Is Real.” “We more like substitute teachers, cause I learned more from Black Star and Black Thought, than I ever did from any class of any sort.” Elsewhere, the MC rides a breezy salsa beat on “Sea Me Sun,” assesses religion on “God Theory,” and embraces humility on “Keep On.”
Place DTMD within a particular movement bubbling in the local hip-hop scene. After months of frustrating delays, Pro’Verb released his While You’re Waiting… mixtape earlier this month. Later this year, Lyriciss is scheduled to release The Balance, his proper solo debut. Those rappers opt for brainy lyricism over flashy narcissism. With Makin’ Dollas, Dunc and Toine put themselves in that same category, proving that substance still has a place in hip-hop, especially if listeners can relate to the message.