From Rap Battles to the Oscar’s, No One is “Safe”!!
Dumbfoundead brought the rhymes straight outta L.A.’s Koreatown, playing a sold out show on the second stop of his We Might Die Tour at the Alexander Gastown.
Dumbfoundead (DFD) is many things: a Korean American battle rap veteran, a laid-back stoner, a quick-witted freestyler, and someone who is not afraid to get political.
On tour to support his fourth album, We Might Die, DFD has a die-hard online following. His most popular songs can regularly rack up millions of views, and his reputation in battle rap is such that when he returned to the scene after an almost six year hiatus in 2015, even Drake was stoked!
DJ Zo got the show started, and manned the turntables the entire night. His scratches and samples added a nice dynamic, most notably when he cut in YG’s “Fuck Donald Trump” on numerous occasions.
The opening act, Year of the Ox, is made up of rappers Lyricks and JL–who are also Korean American–and their set was a breath of fresh air in this age of mumble rapping. They brought back the complex lyricism that makes your head spin and finger hit repeat. They went so hard that their voices started getting raspy and lost, but the words came through loud and clear; the crowd roared when they heard them say “Kimchi”. Year of the Ox saved their hardest and best-known song, “Seven Rings”, for last, and if this show was any indication, the Rooster should be nervous because 2017 might end up being their year.
Dumbfoundead opened his set with the hard hitting “Harambe”, and the crowd was already bumping, despite lyrics that call out police shootings and economic inequality among other things. But that’s how hyped the beat is; you can’t help it. And based on the title alone, if they don’t get Keith Ape on the remix that would be a travesty.
DFD’s setlist was mostly drawn from his output in the last four years or so, and there was no shortage of catchy material to draw from. His crowd interaction was also on point, at one point telling a fan at the front “Wow, you are drenched in merchandise” before thanking them for the support. He also asked if we had a Koreatown, to which most people shouted back “Lougheed!!” You can’t really argue with that.
Set highlights included “Korean Jesus”, “Murals”, “Ganghis Khan”, and “Cellphone”, the last one being a great singalong song. DFD and Year of the Ox also performed a few songs together, and they even taught us the Korean version of “Rock, Paper, Scissors”…“Kai Bai Bo”.
DFD saved “Safe”–a song inspired by the Asian jokes during last year’s Oscars–for almost last, in which he addresses the model minority stereotype Asian Americans are often faced with in a hilarious video that superimposes DFD’s face over some of Hollywood’s most iconic characters, including Jack from “Titanic”, Ironman and Jack Sparrow.
Seeing these Korean American MC’s made me realize how rare Asian American rappers still are in hip-hop, but DFD and Year of the Ox are definitely holding it down in the meantime. With his clever rhymes, party rocking beats, and skittery trap-influenced hi-hats, Dumbfoundead killed it and aptly lives up to his own name.