OBIJUAN & DYLANTHEINFAMOUS – DEUS ANIMI (piece 2/3)

Words by Daniel Farrell

Obijuan and dylantheinfamous are fast becoming a powerful force in the underground. They’ve collaborated on a number of pieces, namely ‘ODYSSEIA’, ‘ESG VOL. 1’ & the languid.oceans album of the same title. Much more recently, late November in fact, he released an album titled ‘PARADICE ISLAND’, that dropped inbetween ‘DEUS ANIMI’ and ‘ODYSSEIA’, serving as precursor. What’s impressive is that these are all 2020 releases; In a year which might have discouraged some artists, maybe offering them solace in knowing everyone’s a little off-kilter, it seems to have inspired this duo to bottle their creative juices, and release them in an orderly fashion. So, as a final foray on 2020, Obijuan and dylantheinfamous have brought something a little different to the table, a 7 track album, DEUS ANIMI, releasing on the ever-supportive Bad Taste Records. It’s the “second art piece of a trilogy by Obijuan X dylantheinfamous”, and we were overjoyed when Obijuan hit our inbox with the proposition of having a rare first listen and a role in covering the piece. So firstly, it’s a mad ‘thanks’ to Obijuan and dylantheinfamous. Secondly, we don’t want to speak on every track, because it’s for you, the listener, to seek meaning. We’ve picked a few of our favourites to dissect, so, without further ado, let’s crack open the nut that is DEUS ANIMI and nibble on the salty, fatty residuals from which it’s comprised. 

Track 1 – CANDLEWAX

CANDLEWAX begins with a paraphrased passage of scripture from the bible of King James. It notes:  

“The message is out there, and it ain’t no excuse. You ain’t have no cloak for your sins, because you already heard it…”

It feels with every project Obijuan approaches, there’s this element of cultural distortion, whether that be his understanding and valuable bridging of US and UK cultures, or his scientific and religious suppositions, he’s clearly adept in a number of areas.

His Bahamian roots are evident in the sound, if not the lyricism and sampling of this, the album’s opener. It’s what makes him such a fascinating artist. He holds this evocative accent, a subtle blend of Caribbean and US East Coast which drives through from 16 to 16 – He doesn’t allow himself to be confined by the beat, more so, he adds a percussive element by using this voice. It’s at times rugged, at times smooth, but always gripping. The production from dylantheinfamous isn’t to be overlooked, not on this track, or any of the succeeding tracks. On CANDLEWAX, he’s opted to use an almost indigenous, Afro-Caribbean palette; A mixture of drawn out springs, Afro-Cuban Claves and the more bassy D§jembe style drum, which offers a subtle, spaced out underlay. You can almost picture the rainforests of the Caribbean coming to life on this track. It’s an eerie start.

Track 2 – OBEAH II

OBEAH II follows a similar pattern to CANDLEWAX, opening with more scriptural tellings. The production offers a much pacier void for Obijuan to fill, which he does with a series of playful, concise bars. We still have this eerie tone, which appears to be a thematic of the overall piece and is almost nurtured as we move through the album. A heavier percussive presence allows Obijuan to find a more conventional rhythmic tone, amidst lengthier, hallowed strings. This eeriness is proven in the track’s title, Obeah, which is a system of spiritual healing and justice-making practices, most common in parts of West-Africa and the Caribbean. Obijuan speaks of JuJu and Voodo, again supporting the notion of darker stirrings within his ideologies.  

“My Jamaican nigga sis twisting braids with the big spliff ablaze. My trini gal dance in a grass dress”.

In spite of OBEAH II being a more structured track than CANDLEWAX, solely as a result of the use of drums, Obijuan still employs his laboured, lazy and disjointed flow. The raspiness of certain sections is what’s so alluring. He’s smart, and this is apparent when deploying simple literary devices, such as alliteration (which is evident in track 3 – BEDKNOBS). This unique delivery is what sets him apart from others in the field.  

It’s tricky to write about production when it comes to this pairing, as they’re seemingly so in sync with their vision. We can’t imagine it took them all too long to get this album done and dusted. What we can say and will say about dylantheinfamous’s production, is that it’s about as clean on this as it’s ever been before. There’s a level of focus, attention to detail and ultimately an obsession with perfection that separates mediocre production from top tier, and dylantheinfamous is the latter as far as we’re concerned. 

Track 4 – CHICKCHARNEY

In Bahamian culture, but more specifically in the folklore of the people on the Island of Andros, there’s a legendary creature called the Chickcharney. It’s said to be around 3 feet tall, resembling an owl, but with proportionally longer lower limbs. It’s said that if a traveller and a Chickcharney’s journeys intersect, an either fruitful or infertile fate will be granted. It’s said that the travellers actions and offerings are reflected by this creature, which will either reward good or bad luck, dependent on the travellers demeanour and motives. I digress, the production seems to sample a distorted 1950’/60’s swing vocals, chopped and screwed into rhythm in that ever-present eerie fashion.

Obijuans approach is nothing short of remarkable across the whole album, but specifically on CHICKCHARNEY. You can’t throw it on and play GTA in the background, you really have to listen and soak up his words to appreciate the lyricism and wordplay. As we’ve mentioned, his style is lazy yet specific and almost lisped at times, which exists to engage the audience. His hookless methodology is another often underlooked and underappreciated technique. Hooks are made to do just that, to hook a listener in, but Obijuan doesn’t need hooks; He needs an understanding, synced up producer and his brain, that’s it. 

   

Track 5 – LOOSECHANGE

Track 5 takes a much more direct and conventional hip/hop approach, with dylantheinfamous blending a series of easy-listening pops and drum patterns with those typically distorted samples. It allows Obijuan to deliver his bars with real assurance and clarity, and though it’s a different sound to previous tracks, it follows the album’s themes of darkness, suspense and legend neatly.

“Deus animi, smoking luigi, slang ouija boards. Cena, you can’t see me lord, never see me fall”.

In terms of lyrical content, Obijuan seems to profess his distaste with the actions of some of his peers. He’s agitated, which is evidenced in his disgruntled tone and audible teeth-kissing. He manages to find pace and rhythm in what is a cleverly placed slow-motion beat; It signifies the beginning of the end of the EP neatly. There’s not much else we want to say about this one, pop in your headphones and light a little sutt’n, we’ve no doubt you’ll find a lucid connections with his submission. It’s clear Obijuan had some things on his mind in 2020, which is supported by his high volume of releases, they ALL fire.

Track 7 – BLACK PEARLZ

As closing tracks go, not many will come close to BLACK PEARLZ. It’s fitting that the samples used by dylantheinfamous throughout have reminded us of the 50’s and 60’s, a good string sample will do this, but it’s fitting because you can almost imagine an empty auditorium, with two ends of a pair of red velvet curtains, with golden amber trill, slowly falling and meeting in front of Obijuan as he recedes, center-stage. Towards the tracks terminal, he’s in an apparent conversation with himself about his attention and direction for the years to come. It’s as though he’s learning to let go of certain people and certain ideologies, in order for him to reach his next ethereal plane.  

“Sharp blade keep the grass low, no stones in my glass dome”

Obijuan and dylantheinfamous have taken us on a whistle stop tour of Obijuan’s roots; Afro-Caribbean, more specifically Bahamian, US and UK culture. His ability to understand and bridge this trifecta is incomparable. There’s nothing that we know of that’s quite this unique and tangible. You really get an impression of who both the artists are, of who both Obijuan and dylantheinfamous are, which is impressive for such a short project. We’ve linked the album below, so have a listen and soak it up. 

Support the cause here, go fuckin’ cop that!