Originally going to be called The Fifth Dimension, but with a group already with that name, Five Deez is all about getting in your headspace, twisting the notions you have of hiphop and rapping. “When you experience music”, explains the main producer / DJ, Fat Jon, named so for his ample girth, “it is in five dimensions. You have the first three that we experience daily, and then there is another dimension of time and space, and finally a dimension of spirituality.”
Five Deez music attracts your attention subtly, not with harsh swearing or stolen 70s hooks common to hiphop, but with sweeps and processes common to trance or electronica, and a very different sound all around, even compared to other alternative hiphop. Beginning in Cincinnati in the 90s, now separated between Berlin, New York and Cincinnati, the groups’ sound is standout in a world of sameness and label clones. My favourite track on the album Kommunicator is BMW, which is to be the first single, and also Fat Jon’s favourite. “I think that track is a good synopsis of the album actually, the sound of it, the energy of it. It’s funky, it’s different, but as far as hiphop goes its familiar, but not really, you know?”
I ask Jon if he thinks living in Berlin has given this album more of a techno edge, with him hearing more techno there than he would in the USA, but he hesitates to agree. “I’ve always done different kind of things with hiphop production,” he explains. “This record being a hybrid of hiphop and electronic beats is to really try and make something different; as our third album and also for hiphop too, to try and take it in a different direction. The truth is, I’ve been doing music a long time, and I want to do something to challenge myself. Making the same stuff over and over is just boring. Being in the studio and doing the same thing you did years ago is just not fun. Trying to do something new, and making it sound dope, is hard,” he laughs, “and that challenge is fun for me, it keeps me on my toes.”
“The general hiphoper is close minded, and they just want to hear what’s on the radio,” Jon states. “They don’t like thinking. They wanna turn on a song and not have to think about it, just background music and they do whatever. My music requires your brain to come on and process it. It’s not club music on the radio; it’s something that requires a little bit more from the listener. I’ve heard this a thousand times, but with the Five Deez stuff, people come up and say ‘I don’t really like hiphop but I like your stuff.’ But my stuff IS hiphop. It gets to people who aren’t really into rap and hiphop, and I find that really interesting.”
“I think if you listen to my stuff, you need a certain level of imagination to appreciate it,” he says when I bring up the very obvious sci-fi elements contained in the Five Deez works. “I’m all about space, time travel, different dimensions, all of that – I think about it every day. I think science fiction reflects real life. I’ve always been enamoured with the concept of the future, and where man can go in the process if we don’t destroy ourselves before we get there. And a lot of the concepts are ‘yeah, right, bullshit’ and completely untrue, but at their root they’re based on some type of theory that does exist that needs exploration and experimentation.”
Fat Jon has also got his own record label up and happening, and he plans to bring out re-releases of older tracks and stuff released only in Japan. “A lot of those releases I’m going to be releasing internationally on my new label, Ample Soul. I started it to release some other side project material that I’m working on. It’s a way for me as an artist to have another avenue for my stuff, and maintain the kind of control a lot of artists want over their music. We had our first release back in November with Rebel Clique, featuring Ameleset Solomon, who I worked with on Black Rushmore and BMW on the Kommunicator album.” When I ask about the Japanese only releases, he says, “I release stuff in Japan only mainly for fun, actually. I’ve been to Japan and lived there for a minute, and produced a record strictly for the fans… I feel in some connected to Japan –. Even when I’m there, I don’t know I can’t explain it; I feel like I’m some long lost Japanese dude or something, you know?” he chuckles.