Listen to “Sacred Papercuts,” the first single from Dumhi’s Soft Pretzel Power Ballads

Dumhi | via
Dumhi onstage in 2011 | via

Philly hiphop collective Dumhi returns this month with the latest installment of its Loosies series, amusingly titled Soft Pretzel Power Ballads. It’s a funny title, but these dudes are for serious – producer Haj at the helm and his regular bevy of collaborators, including Reef the Lost Cauze (his January single “Early on my Born Day“), Random, Murs, Burke the Jurke and more. Continue reading →


Jam to Dumhi’s latest mixtape, Loosies v.2, The Midnight Salad Sessions, feat. Reef the Lost Cauze, Mic Stewart and more

In the early hours of this morning, South Philly production mastermind Dumhi dropped his latest project, the second installment of the Loosies mixatape series. Whereas volume 1 focused solely on collaborations with Philly rap icon Reef the Lost Cauze, the second volume opens it up to a large cast of collaborators – some who have appeared on past Dumhi efforts (Side Effect, Random, Burke the Jurke) and some who are making their Dumhi debut (Mic Stewart, Mirage512). The set keeps the rhymes rapid-fire while the overall pace is laid-back, making for a unique blend of intense tracks for chill moments. Listen to Reef’s “’92 Flow” below, and get the entire mixtape as a name-your-own-price download at Bandcamp.


Download the new Reef The Lost Cauze x Haj from Dumhi EP Sirens on Snyder

Cover art by Kevin Jackson - @Chuise
Cover art by Kevin Jackson – @Chuise

The new Sirens On Snyder EP, a collaboration between Reef The Lost Cauze and producer Haj from Dumhi is out now. The EP features Random, Burke The Jurke, Ethel Cee and Side Effect and was produced by Haj, who writes this about the EP’s background (and his background with Reef):

Back in 2008, I met up with Reef the Lost Cauze for the first time. We made a song called “Squeeze” that night. We have made a LOT of songs together since.
Last October we were recording what would become B.Dawk and Reef was like “we might as well just knock out a little Ep, man.” I was like, “Let’s go!”
I won’t do anymore dialogue in this email. I promise.
So while Reef and Caliph were finishing up “Reef the Lost Cauze is Dead”, I started sketching some beats together and in about January, we started rocking out on Wednesday nights in the basement.

You can check out the music video for “Moonshine” here and stream / download the album below.


The Week’s Best MP3 Downloads, incl. Arc in Round, Moon Palace, Magic Man

65516_10151096489396659_980587142_nArc in Round‘s debut LP got the remix treatment this week.  A handful of local projects, including Ape School and King Britt (along with national acts Benoît Pioulard and Lymbyc System) contributed reworkings to the collection.  Stream A Sunny Day in Glasgow‘s remix of “II” below and get the full album here.

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Dumhi and Side Effect return with the new Gentleman / Classic EP

SideEffectDumhiThe fruitful collaboration between Philly production mastermind Dumhi and emerging rapper Side Effect continues on the new Gentleman / Classic EP, released earlier this month on Bandcamp. The set features the signature Dumhi style – sharp beats, jazzy arrangements – laid underneath Side Effect’s pointed and honest rhymes. Listen to it below, download it here, and watch a video of Side Effect and Dumhi playing at Fishtown’s Slingluff Gallery (R.I.P.) back in 2011 – I have no idea who that annoying dude bobbing his head and Instagramming with the WXPN t-shirt is, of course.


Listen to Cee Knowledge from Digable Planets collaborate with Dumhi and more on “The Scene (You Don’t Know)”

South Philly hiphop producer Dumhi has worked with dozens of local rappers over the past few years – including our featured artist in this week’s Key Studio Session, Ethel Cee. This week, he released his latest collaborative cut – “The Scene (You Don’t Know)”, featuring Cee Knowledge (aka Doodlebug from Digable Planets), Random, Burke the Jurke and Open Mic Eagle. You can listen to the track below, and grab a name-your-own-price download of its digital single at Bandcamp.


Watch a new video for Ethel Cee’s “Coke and Yoga” (and check back for her Key Session next month)

Rapper Ethel Cee just released another video from Seven Thirty, her EP collaboration with South Philly production wizard Dumhi. The song is about the whiplash that comes when the party life and the spiritual life collide, and the video is a literal depiction of such, with the rapper in a yoga class flashing back to her night before, a rager with an incredible guestlist. I’m spotting Haj Dumhi, Reef the Lost Cauze and Jonathan Slingliff from Slingluff Gallery among its attendees. Check out the video below, and check back for our Key Session with Ethel Cee (produced in collaboration with the awesome folks at Philadelphia Music Magazine) on Sept. 12. You can also check out our photo gallery from the studio session here.


Hear Philly rapper Ethel Cee get fierce to Fela Kuti on “One Fifty” (prod. by Dumhi)

Ethel Cee, between takes at Dumhi HQ

The next project on deck for South Philly hip-hop impresario Dumhi is a collaborative EP with rapper Ethel Cee that producer Haj describes as “heavy and emotional.” But sometimes, musicians have to cut loose and be spontaneous. Last week, Haj took part in a Fela Kuti beat battle – the production equivalent of freestyling, if you will – and when Ethel Cee heard the track he mixed together from samples of the legendary Afrobeat pioneer, she immediately set to composing lyrics. A week later, a hard-hitting single was born; you can download “One Fifty” below.


Philly Local Philes: Dumhi’s “Alive”

It’s a safe bet that somehow, somewhere, South Philly hip-hop outfit Dumhi is recording a new track. Back in the spring, producer-frontman Haj released his latest full-length, The Whole World’s Watching, a collaboration with a dozen or so MCs from the Philly scene. (You can read my review of it for The Key here.) One of those rappers, newcomer Side Effect, made stand-out, show-stealing contributions to the set, and Haj decded to work with him further. The collaboration has already yielded enough material for an entirely new release, and Side Effect EP was released digitally last week. Today’s Philly Local Phile spotlights “Alive,” Haj’s favorite song on the EP. He writes:

Side touches on art vs day job, art vs relationship, tells stories, explains himself without apology, and even almost sings a little bit, right?
If you know me, you know I can go on endlessly about day jobs draining one’s soul. Especially after a few beers. Haha. So I definitely relate to Side’s words on this.

The track also features guitar work from Marco Hill and background vocals by MicheleQJ. Stream or download the track below, and pick up the entire pay-what-you-wish EP here.



Album Review: Dumhi’s The Whole World’s Watching

South Philadelphia hip-hop outfit Dumhi excels when it comes to working in themes. The group’s latest release, The Whole World’s Watching, takes its title from the famous protest chant that gets sampled and spliced into a recurring motif across the album. We hear it looped, bumping in sync with a guiding beat as the set opens. We hear it fading into the distance at the conclusion. We notice it peeking out from around a remote corner in the middle.

On past releases, the source material determined the theme for producer/frontman Haj. (Wait, the frontman of this hip-hop group isn’t an MC? You read correctly. Check out my City Paper story on Dumhi from last year for more on that.) This time, Haj knew what story he wanted to tell from the get-go: a study of race and the music industry, and how everything’s changing as labels collapse and digital distribution either democratizes or dilutes the game. With this foresight, Haj went out in search of supporting clips and sounds, coalesced by the chant. The whole world is watching those who are able to make it as stars. The whole world is watching exploitative practices of opportunistic, desperate execs. The whole world is watching the industry shift.

This is a liberating exercise. Dumhi’s last outing—2010’s The Jungle—was collection of tracks based around a sampled crate of Ethiopian jazz. It was excellent (one of my favorite Philly releases of the year), but very much centered around that specific sound. On this album, without a musical unifier, Haj is free to set his A-list of Philly rappers loose over beds of spacy surf (“Radio”), cinematic soul (“Paramount”), and spooky G-funk (“Shade”).

The central theme emerges through vocal samples (Almost Famous, old newscasts, Jerry McGuire) and incisive rhymes by the album’s guest MCs. Newcomer Side Effect walks us through the old path to dubious success on “The Demo”—start out by hustling your tape, sign a deal, realize after the fact that it’s not as sweet a deal as it seemed. (“I didn’t know the more I borrowed, the more I owed / they’re a label, not a bank, that’s what I thank and so I’m sold.”) But the track also poses the question—when labels offer fewer contracts, what next? Side Effect addresses this quandary later on, nabbing one of the record’s best lines on “Double Your Money”: “Hit the city streets and flood the net like WikiLeaks.” Lyrical heavyweight Reef The Lost Cauze delivers a scathing critique on “Fourth of July,” which highlights persistent racial inequities in music, as well as society. He later joins frequent collaborators Random and Ethel Cee on “Paramount,” where Cee steals the show, takes down the industry, and welcomes a new musical era.

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