It’s always exciting when I come across an artist who delivers an album that can be enjoyed from beginning to end. It’s even more enjoyable when that artist is completely independent. There’s something to be said for music independence in these days of packaged and repackaged mainstream music product. Independent music isn’t held back by labels and expectations to fit a certain mold.
When I first heard Ant’s “Fly”, I was very impressed by the fact that it had that classic hip-hop vibe that only a few “netaudio” hip-hop releases have. That vibe is present even while a modern undercurrent is heard throughout, so what you end up with is a modern hip-hop album that hasn’t forgotten the lessons of the pioneers and innovators.
After absorbing “Fly”, I was eager for more. Around that same time I announced that blocSonic was considering original releases and that we were inviting artists to approach us about releasing their material. Ant was the first artist to do so and a perfect fit at that. Since our dedication to quality over quantity was being carried over to our original releases, Ant was indeed the best artist we could have hoped for to help us impress that attitude on our premier release.
So here you have it… “Dig Deep”, a shining example of what the independent music world has to offer. It's also an authentic and innovative hip-hop album that refuses to be boxed in by quick and simple comparisons. With this album, Ant has brought together a terrific bunch of co-producers, vocalists and emcees that have all added their own touch in such a way that doesn’t make this producer-driven album feel like a compilation. Conceptually, there’s no doubt that this album is a whole.
Thanks to Just Plain Ant for his interest in having blocSonic release “Dig Deep”. Also, thanks to Sleaze, EENJ, Jay Slim, Alex Murphy, Elijah, Joey Ripps, Brad Oblivion, Caitlin Meissner and Yarrow Lutz for being a part of this fantastic album. Finally, thanks to Christine Lockerby for her fantastic photographic work.
Thanks for downloading and listening! Enjoy the album! Burn copies of it… give copies to friends… give them to strangers…
Want high-resolution album art, liner-notes or lossless FLAC audio? Check out the blocSonic release page!
Dig Deep by Just Plain Ant is licensed under a Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives (aka Music Sharing) License.
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Jason Smith on 06/01/2009 at 10:25AM
Just shy of its two-month anniversary, the Free Music Archive currently hosts over 8400 tracks and is growing at a rapid pace. Already I can sense the ease of getting caught up in what's brand spanking new in terms of uploads at the risk of forgetting about what blew my mind the previous week. Diving into Creative Commons selections confirms once and for all that I could live several lives and not know all of the incredible music that's out there. I will always be in a perpetual state of catch-up. And you know what? I'm actually okay with that. It means that I can focus on an increasing backlog of sonic goodness and sidestep the audio okie doke. Sounds like a win-win, if you ask me.
Prior to the FMA's existence, my primary source for finding the best in net audio was blocSonic, a website founded by Michael Gregoire. From Old Orchard Beach, Maine, he holds it down for free and legal sounds from across the globe and has proved his dedication to the music time and again through his netBloc series. With over 20 volumes under its belt, not only does the series cover artists from numerous genres, but each volume comes with a beautiful booklet in PDF form featuring interviews with the artists. I'd never seen anything like this before and was immediately impressed with the hard work and meticulous detail going into something that was being given to the world for free. I still consider blocSonic to be an invaluable resource and I can personally attest to my hunger for Creative Commons releases growing sevenfold just by following the site on Twitter.
It was only a matter of time before blocSonic started releasing original works. This year marked the premiere of an album by Just Plain Ant, a producer from Richmond, Virginia. Dig Deep is reflective hip-hop of the highest order and a reminder of what can happen when boom bap gets grown and deals with the peaks and valleys of life, only to notice that the valleys have been outnumbering the peaks. The album deals with love lost, not letting go of friendships, attempting to make sense of your dreams, loneliness, and so much more. Heartfelt and heavy, it's emotional without falling into the "emo" side of things. And while there's always the threat of too many guest artists on producer-led albums, a delicate balance is struck on Dig Deep. Highlights include "Still Dreamin'" featuring Jay Slim, "Can't Say Goodbye" featuring Elijah, and the beautiful poetry of Caitlin Meissner on "Love Letters." However, the featured track below showcases one of Ant's instrumentals. "If You're Not True To Me" somehow manages to be seductive even in its underlying sense of distrust within a relationship.
Respect due to Just Plain Ant for a phenomenal release - certainly one of the best hip-hop albums to drop so far in 2009. I'll be looking forward to the next blocSonic original release with great anticipation...