Double Helix


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Part of the novelty of Double Helix arises as a result of the odd cultural intersection that they represent -- originally from Toledo, OH, the duo eventually moved to California to make their way in the recording world. Partly, it arises from their enigmatic stance and obvious, impressive lyrical innovation. For those who like their wordplay eccentric and smoldering, Spon and John?Doe provide some astounding flashes of pure verbal invention, derived from straight-up battle rhyming, but a few hyper-drive light years beyond it. If there is anything that jumps out about DNA-lysis, it is the fresh sense of boundlessness here: punch-lines by the dozen, more references than a shelf full of encyclopedias, verses that are whole lexicons, rhapsodic flares that are impossible to catch up with. Spon, specifically, rhymes not only over the beat, but around it and through it, keeping his flow so irregular and interesting that you can't help but be drawn into its mazes, but John?Doe, slightly more conventional, has plenty of dazzling moments as well. The tracks are kept gritty and grounded in the underground aesthetic, with dark, bottom-stubborn street beats that, on the whole, seem far more East of the Mississippi than sunny California. To be perfectly frank, it is difficult to grasp even half of what is being said. DNA-lysis requires several listens just to get used to the mismatched dialogue, a couple to soak in the outpouring of words, and another few to start picking out phrases and buried ideas. This is certainly something new under the sun, but it also has the occasional lapse, mainly when the pair return to well-trodden underground rap turf or flame more commercial-minded (and, it bears noting, successful) peers. Nevertheless, Double Helix is always fascinating. A real treat for dedicated hip-hop heads, the album will take some exertion on the part of the general listener. It is well-worth the effort.