Dumhi remains one of my favorite hip-hop groups out there, but then it became known that the group was not only a functioning collective, but a project from the mind of Rajan Jugran. In other words, Dumhi can be a two-headed beast at any given time, and one of those heads may branch out to reveal three, four, or twelve more heads atr any given time. It’s my of saying that when it remains to be a group vibe, Dumhi is a unit of people. When it wants to be a means of musical exploration from one man, Dumhi is one man.
First off, I want to apologize to Dumhi as a whole for the delay in this review. The album arrived at a time when a number of other albums were coming in, to the point where I felt I was being bombarded with new music. Yes, I realize you guys are saying “Book, we’re fucking Dumhi, you’re our boy, put us on the top of your listening pile and make us a priority.” I know, and again I apologize. But now that I’m listening to the music, looking at brick buildings and barbed water, and hearing how they are a perfect fit, and I now regret delaying my Dumhi intake.
The Jungle (self-released) looks like a serious album, you don’t place a photo like that on the cover to make people think “oh, this is a happy album”. The tone is somber and dark, perhaps just like the times we live in. While not a concept album, there is a running theme, that of how life and the surroundings we live in feel more like a jungle, and the jungle seems to be getting bigger and more wide spread. Has that jungle always existed? Were the schoolyard jungle gyms a microcosm of what we were going to grow into, or just a middle finger from our parents as a message which reads “ha ha, you on your own now, son”?
With the help of such MC’s as Elucid, Random, Reef The Lost Cauze, Burke The Jurke, Jermiside, and Che Grand among others, they tell a story that may sound different from afar, but they connect in the way they all talk about the struggle to live, breathe, and comprehend in the early 21st century. When Raj/Haj slips in an instrumental interlude, it feels like incidental music from a 70’s film, and maybe that’s the point: to show that some of the things being explored in movies we watched during our youth is now our reality, and the connection to those old stories remains. Maybe we can find solutions in those old stories by telling the current stories, and thus Dumhi continue to be storytellers for today and the generations to come. The Jungle is perhaps what we want it to be, what we deny, but it also allows us to figure out why the jungle exists, or does it exists? Just like racial slurs and living conditions, can people break out of the jungle in order to find something better, or is it always about a vicious game of survival in a concrete jungle? Or are the oppressors in it for the game to watch animals prey on each other? While The Jungle doesn’t get heavy in a political context, it does touch upon it socially, to put up a mirror for us to not only see what we don’t want to see, but hopefully to reflect back at those who don’t think those conditions exist. Perhaps it means reconditioning mentalities, or reconditioning those who do not feel those conditions can or should change.
Perhaps it is deep after all. To be continued…