If young rappers were to take a lone lesson from the Dungeon Family’s creative heyday (let’s say 1994-2000) and commercial legacy (Andre 3000 and Cee-Lo laid their fingerprints all over the artists that currently populate the charts and, of course, occasionally popped their heads out of the ground to hop on the charts and important tunes themselves in the past decade), ideally it would be that the traditional boundaries of hip-hop structure–in culture and music–should never stop an artist from making the music that pours out of their heart. Whether pure pop, Prince-ly R n’ B, or hardcore rap, the Dungeon Family edict was to follow the heart with full conviction. Songs like “B.O.B.” adhere to neither commercial master nor strict genre, shattering expectations, gaining rabid fans, and potentially confusing people in the process.
Whether you bought Cee-Lo’s Christmas album or not, or think Future’s auto-tuned croon is the bane of popular rap, it’s hard to deny that the Dungeon Family directive to create outside of an artist’s perceived lane has led to artistic and financial success time and again.
Sexual, contemplative, sprawling, and slow, EarthGang‘s “UFOs” veers far left from the duo’s last music expedition “Machete” and hews a bit closer to the earthy soul that typified so much mid-90s Dungeon Family output. Clocking in at 9 minutes, “UFOs” is a lithe, spacey meditation on love, lust, and trust that builds to a simmer and eventual boil, stacking two verses from emcees Doctur Dot and Johnny Venus, before diving into a tangle of guitars, vocals, and drums to end the track. It’s a formula indebted to past innovators, but never loses sight of the present.
Give “UFOs” a listen below.