Though it's only been a few months since Dedicated Servers' last release, October 2011's Samurai Servers--the Boise rap duo offered up a new EP and a thesis statement this month: The Finest, a six-track download available from Bandcamp.
Those accustomed to the high-energy delivery and hijinx-laden live performances of the group might be in for a bit of a perspective shift. The collection as a whole has a slower, jazzier feel than the bouncy electronica the group's live shows and previous cuts are built around.
The EP opens with the title track, a lazy-tempo swung beat with a positive-sounding guitar loop that builds to big horn blasts and string trills for the hook, featuring guest vocals from local rapper Eleven. It's a little odd that the first voice you hear on the EP isn't MCMD or Peanut, the two members of the group, but the oddness quickly fades.
The second track, "Finally Home," an ode to Boise featuring vocals from jazz singer and actor Leta Neustaedter, is built around string and electric piano loops that sound plucked from '70s soft-core.
When the third track, "Do it Yourself," kicks in, a different sensation takes over. The beat picks up, with a brassy riff looping end-to-end like a mantra. Peanut's vocals are much less aggressive than the beat, making it seem a little off.
Track four, "Wasn't That Cute," stands apart from the other songs on the EP. It features a tighter beat, no swung tempos and a more abstract atmospheric loop than the soul-style riffs that defined the earlier loops. It's instantly head-bobbing, and the subject matter--gold-digging ladies and their Kreayshawn-esque desires for Gucci, Fendi and Prada--is well suited for exercising the old lexicon.
Track five, "Second Nature," brings back that soft-core sound and the final track, "The Finest Remix," has a more uptempo feel than the original, with a bouncy synth-bass groove. It's definitely the danciest track on the EP, and maybe even the best overall thanks to its infectious beat.
The Finest has the same well crafted song structure and playfully good-natured lyrics laden with nerd references that have been Dedicated Servers' calling card in the Boise hip-hop scene. But The Finest is undeniably a markedly more chill offering than the duo's previous work. -Josh Gross (Boise Weekly)