Dabrye – Three / Three (4 stars)

Dabrye – Three / Three

Final part in the producer's formidable trilogy, with guest vocals from Guilty Simpson, Phat Kat, Kadence, Quelle Chris, Danny Brown and more

When Tadd Mullinix debuted his Dabrye moniker in 2001 with the release of One / Three, he unleashed a sound crafted from the dexterous merging of modern electronica with instrumental hip hop and elements of Detroit funk. Since the 2006 follow-up Two / Three, the Michigan producer has been concentrating more heavily on his dance projects, releasing music under various aliases. But over a decade later, he returns with his trilogy's finale, once again entrusting a series of skilled MCs to deliver rhymes over his now trademark beats.

Three / Three hints at a greater influence of soul and jazz, heard in tracks like 'Sunset' and 'First Law of Nature Rock Day', with plenty of mellow refrains, relaxed repetition and a much more liberated feel overall. But this is integrated with the welcome addition of some of Detroit's finest talent including Guilty Simpson, Phat Kat, Kadence, Quelle Chris, Danny Brown and more. Each guest vocalist adds their own unique vibe to Dabrye's electronic-tinged hip hop lines, often juxtaposing something very minimalist and clean with fast-flowing, animated patterns.

Opener 'Tunnel Vision', with Guilty Simpson's rough multi-layered rhymes, illustrates this excellently, as his flow bounces along above Dabrye's laidback touches. 'Emancipated', with Ghostface Killah on lyrical duties, has this cut and paste quality in the accompanying chimes, which continues on 'Lil Mufukuz' featuring Doom assisted by some experimental funk. 'The Appetite', meanwhile, is sharper thanks to Roc Marciano and Quelle Chris' rugged verses and Danny Brown's familiar yelp, and 'Culture Shuffle' is arguably the track that best demonstrates Dabrye's avant-garde layering, with its Middle Eastern sounding rhythms and futuristic bleeps and bloops.

Ultimately, as well as representing Dabrye's long-awaited return to his instrumental hip hop leanings, Three / Three signals an artistry and flair previously evident in the first two records of this now formidable trilogy.

Out Fri 16 Feb on Ghostly International.

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