Frustrated with the state of hip-hop and the commonplace idea that Southern rap equals crunk jams, Redd and Flux, originating members and friends since middle school, created Forbidden Dialect, a hip-hop collective that defies genre stereotypes.
Based in Columbus, Ga., the group has expanded to a six-piece: Amorphouz (Derek Bordeaux) Cycle Logic (Anthony Chan), Jason Jefferies, Joey Donague, Flux (Rafael Roman) and Redd (Luis Gallardo). The group’s engaging and catchy hooks paired with creative lyrics screams fresh diversity.
Since fully organizing in 2000, Forbidden Dialect has gained supporters in a wide range of social circles for their clever lyrics and catchy beats. As they promote the release of their first official LP, More Than Your Money’s Worth, the sextet celebrate the road taken to where they are now—from from self-proclaimed freethinking high school kids to freethinking lyrical masterminds.
More Than Your Money’s Worth is a compilation of twenty songs—each spearheaded by one individual member—that are bursting with humor and excellent taste in digital beats. “Doonie’s Shoes,” the first track and invitation into the minds of Forbidden Dialect, is a combination of originality atop a classical hip-hop rhythm.
Flux raps, “What would you do without me? Nothing!” The album is as unpredictable as the band’s formation (who knew Columbus would spawn great rappers?). The song titles are creative—”Three-Piece Leopard-Print Suit Imported From Zanzabar,” “Smoke Break (Reprise)”—and instruments can range from shakers to tambourines to saxophones to timpanis in one track alone (“Doonie’s Shoes”).
Despite the different emcee’s rapping, it’s a cohesive debut. “Radio Friendly,” easily a crowd favorite, boasts a claim of musical superiority: “I snap your title belt so quick that your pants fall.”
But the lyrics aren’t just smack-talking or amplified brags.
“Sometimes, I feel the need to discuss why our country continuously puts itself in debt, but then talk about how I’m in my own hole trying to get out financially,” Jason said.
In writing More Than Your Money’s Worth, the group agreed that they wanted the album to be “organic” and “democratic.”
Redd related the process to the construction of a Lego castle, except “all of the Lego’s were scattered around the house.” The members set up a private Wiki and would swap song drafts and communicate daily.
When the gems finally emerged, Redd said, “Recording took maybe four and a half months. Politics and the technical details took another four and a half months.”
Having been together for about ten years, each emcee in Dialect has a good feel for the other. But the all-male group doesn’t include any guest appearances from female lyricists on the album, which is unlike one of the better qualities of a typical rap album.
“Unfortunately, women are grossly under-represented in the hip-hop elements. There are a lot of ‘okay’ emcees but very few dope ones. The same goes for female emcees. It’s simply just numbers. I have probably met hundreds of male emcees in my lifetime, and only a handful of them I thought were dope enough for the Dialect. But I can count on my hand how many female emcees in general I’ve met,” Redd said.
The main characteristic they look for in members is commitment. Flux and Redd were part of several dismantled groups before Dialect, and didn’t want to experience the same trip-ups this go ‘round. For Jason, the first and last person to ever fill out an actual application to be in Dialect, remembered a particular question: “Do you know what hip-hop is?”
Nowadays, Dialect doesn’t recruit but lets the intuitive presence of hip-hop within the group guide the results, rather than making steadfast, official decisions.
However, in the midst of the changes, Jason and Redd have collaborated on a new album, Orange Sessions.
“It’s a nice, abstract, eclectic project, with lots of color and spunk. The beats are out of this world and the lyrics are even more notable,” Redd said.
Orange Sessions will feature Cycle Logic, Flux and Izzy, but it will mainly center on Jason and Redd. Though a release date isn’t yet set, Dialect said the finished product will be one they have taken their time on for a reason, and will be completely worth the wait.
Dialect has lined up a slew of local shows around Columbus and Atlanta, and hopes to perform at Georgia State in the near future.
With the rest of the collective visibly in agreement, Fluxx said, “We would absolutely love, love, love to play a show for GSU, no matter the size, no matter the date. So if any of you readers have anything to do with that, then go shake some trees!”