Title: The Black Holocaust
Artist: DJ Def Chad
Release Date: March 2014
License: CC BY-NC-ND
It has been a long road before the DJ Def Chad remedy could be realized.
Chad was born and raised in Homewood, PA in the area known as the Hilltop. He started DJ’ing in 1980, formed his own crew. They recorded and released an independent EP, before disbanding. After his first group disbanded, Chad formed his own company, TeePee Records to produce and DJ for other artists. He formed a new group PGB (Poets Gettin’ By) when he decided to try his own hand at rhyming. Shortly after this, he met C-Doc and became a member of The Impossebulls, and made several appearance on the C-Doc album Divided We Stand.
Working with C-Doc on The Impossebulls, and Divided We Stand inspired Chad to work on his overdue solo release. That release is here now: The Black Holocaust.
Grown Folks Music
“Grown Folks Music” is how Chad likes to describe the music on this release. The mixture of social consciousness and story telling, set in sample laden soul, R&B and jazz settings make for a release that is more approachable than the average Rap or Hip-Hop release.
Songs like ‘The Remedy’, ‘Breathin’ Thru My Peoples’ ‘Yes Yes Y’All’ bring the social consciousness to the forefront of this recording. In a way, they almost feel like tracks that would be as welcome on a Michael Franti release, as much as they are here. Which, is a good thing. That this music is accessible to a larger audience is quite commendable, especially when spreading more positive messages.
Then there are songs like ‘Cain’, one of the story tracks that really works incredibly well, telling the story of a young thug (Ike) struggling to survive the streets, only to eventually fall to drugs. It’s an interesting tale, unflinching in telling the exploits of Ike, and yet framed from the perspective of a father telling his child a bedtime story. Definitely the story of warning that a father might want to pass on to his kids.
Unfortunately not all the story songs go over as well as ‘Cain’. In some cases, the message can be obscured by a poor choice of subject. For example, ‘Shawntae’, a song that would be a gorgeous ballad of a player finding that one girl for him, and overcoming his player tricks to be with that one woman. Unfortunately, the refrain that runs throughout the song has a rather graphic euphemism that undermines the rest of the story. It would have been better if that euphemism was in one of the verses, and not repeated in the refrain.
Then there is the song ‘SupaNiggaz’, which starts off with a sample of a classic comedy sketch by Richard Pryor. Here I fully expected this track to take on an updated co-opting of an American icon (Superman) by black culture. Instead, the track turns into a crew toss-down by the PGB, which brings to mind the black gang violence that the 80’s rap culture attempted to address. This is made all the more confusing by a sample at the end of ‘Cain’ which talks about black American’s inability to understand tribal violence in Africa, while living with gang violence in America.
So, it’s rare that I am conflicted by a release as much as I am by this one. I am in love with the smooth, R&B style of this release. I love the tracks that bring strong messages to the audience for it. I definitely support the idea of co-opting symbols from other cultures and adapting them to make these messages all the more clear.
I get that racial issues are not simple. I get it, I really do. Yet, I find myself feeling a few things could have been expressed better in this release. I don’t mean to change the meaning, or even soften the message: shock value can be used very effectively. But where lyrics are weak, it just feels like there wasn’t thought put into how to make them have the most impact.
So, I really love this release, despite a few weak spots in the lyrics. DJ Def Chad has given us a record that combines really good hip-hop, lyrics, smooth sound and an excellent vibe. I love the groove, vibe and overall feel of this release. I highly recommend grabbing a copy of it.