Listening to the new release from Doberman and Breathless, what comes through above all else is that the emcees have clearly been grafting for a long time. Their latest release, Tales From T’Dales, is testament to their skills, not to mention more Yorkshire than Sean Bean in a flat cap supping a brew.
Wearing their local influences loud and proud, it’s undeniably clear the boys’ got bars. The duo – two-fifths of the Leeds/Birmingham based Irish Fields Collective – sound happy to spit all day and it’s this vintage boom bap vibe that carries the album.
Tracks like ‘Switch Off’ and ‘Cold’ capture the essence of the duo’s old-school approach. Stripped back instrumentals open up the floor to an eclectic array of rhymes, hitting on everything from the pressures of modern life to zonking out with a Domino’s in ‘a stony coma’. It’s not exactly groundbreaking subject matter but it’s delivered with such precision – not to mention a healthy dose of northern humour – it’s impossible to hate it.
Doberman & Breathless – Couple of Beers
Take ‘Couple of Beers’, for example. Coming across like a soundclash between Split Prophets and Flame Griller, the closing track layers bouncy basslines and a funky melody (courtesy of Loot Fattig of Loopholes Collective) with some top bars to end Tales From T’Dales on a high. Despite this, the album does suffer from a lack of diversity in the beat department. It’s not that the tunes don’t fit the purpose, but with a more experimental musical backdrop the Yorkshire duo could become a central tenet of the northern hip hop scene.
It’s no surprise to hear the duo have laid down tracks to Earl Swirl’s and Bottom Lip’s beats at DubWhy Studios with ExP of Flame Griller fame. Tales From T’Dales rides the wave of down-to-earth, working-man hip hop, free from the delusions of grandeur and gangsterism that can so easily creep into a modern rapper’s repertoire.
The smooth flow and clinical delivery set the boys up for a promising future, but it would be interesting to hear some more diversity in the melodies. The rhymes take centre stage in Tales From T’Dales, which is just fine, but you can’t help but wonder what Breathless and Doberman would be capable of if they stepped outside their comfort zone.