Dusted Reviews

Frank N Dank - Frank N Dank

today features
reviews charts
labels writers
info donate

Search by Artist

Sign up here to receive weekly updates from Dusted

email address

Recent Reviews

Dusted Reviews

Artist: Frank N Dank

Album: Frank N Dank

Label: Dopeness Galore

Review date: Jun. 25, 2007

Frank N Dank are double agents - strip club clientele who managed to ingratiate themselves with bespectacled true-schoolers though their association with longtime friend and collaborator J Dilla. Coaxing the late producer out of his hazy downtempo milieu, Frank N Dank gained attention with the itchy electro-funk of singles "Where the Parties At?" and "Take Them Clothes Off," - conceived as preludes to their never released but widely bootlegged MCA debut, 48 Hrs. With Dilla channeling hometown heroes Juan Atkins and Derrick May, Frank N Dank successfully peddled Detroit's answer to Cash Money's post-Bambaataa bounce to the sometimes conservative Dilla enthusiast. It was a bait and switch that left underground fans none-the-wiser, though the collaboration had essentially delivered off-the-radar versions of "Pass the Courvoisier" and "Super Thug."

The con job backfires with Frank N Dank's self-titled EP, which for the most part sees Dutch producers I.N.T., Y'Skid, Elsas, Wouda and Kid Sublime recalibrating the duo's sound to fit more comfortably with the popular conception of Dilla's oeuvre. Unfortunately, this approach often blunts Frank N Dank's strengths. On nearly every track, DJ Premier-styled scratched hooks halt momentum when the refrain should have been left to the MCs. Wouda's old-timey and summer-breezy bassline on " Ruff, Rugged & Raw" eliminates nearly all the anxiety and urgency that had distinguished Frank N Dank since their debut on Dilla's "Welcome 2 Detroit," though the duo shares the blame for resorting to hollow introductions and hometown representin'. Only the G-Funk-tinged electro boogie of "Spitkicker" succeeds in a club-banging capacity, shuffling past the doorman and around Parliament-styled synth-bursts.

Despite this disconnect between the producers and the MCs, Frank N Dank aren't so one-dimensional that an absence of strip-club thumpers dooms the entire EP. Even when left to rely solely on their own abilities, Frank N Dank are capable, if a bit workmanlike, in their MCing - their battle raps can be clever and versatile enough to work over a variety of productions. And as seen with transatlantic collaborations like Foreign Exchange and Shadow Warriorz, European production can sound fresh in the sometimes-stagnant American underground hip hop scene. In this case, the producers allow the duo to still keep it cosmo and cosmic with Eurostyled ambience, creating the stark textures that seem apt for Frank N Dank's Detroit clubland. "Why?" almost propels the duo into true avant-garde territory, its dizzying and truncated synth-loop forcing Frank N Dank into difficult and slightly awkward cadences.

Though the EP has its moments of electro-funk mastery and leftfield experimentation, the majority of its tracks stand as merely decent approximations of Dilla's late-career sound - that is, as conceived outside of VIP rooms and inside smoke-filled home studios. It’s a regression for the duo; Dilla may have taken center stage on 48 Hrs, but his production had a way of distinguishing them from his other collaborators. Now, Frank N Dank are flanked by Dilla disciples trying to oversimplify his gospel. They don’t necessarily have to step outside of Dilla’s shadow, but they need to define themselves if they want to hang around. This EP blurs what was once a clear M.O.

By Bob Hammond

Read More

View all articles by Bob Hammond

Find out more about Dopeness Galore

©2002-2011 Dusted Magazine. All Rights Reserved.