Last year brought "Kill the Wolf," the record B. Dolan is touring with now and it's an excellent starting point for new fans. Twenty musicians, vocalists, producers and engineers were involved in making it and it took Dolan more than five years to complete. With verses from Aesop Rock, Cecil Otter, Buck 65 and more, "Kill the Wolf" is an underground hip-hop instant classic.
"Thematically, 'Kill The Wolf' started out as two different ideas in my head," says Dolan. "One was a production idea, the other was a writing idea," he says. "As the producer of this album, I had a sound concept in mind of combining breakbeats and big 808s with live guitars and analogue synths, sort of an early Rick Rubin meets Jack White and "Electric Mud" approach. As for the writing of the album, I ended up with some very ambitious and broad topics without meaning to. Maybe because the production of the album took so long, every idea had time to sort of spin itself fully out. Narrow political topics got broadened into bigger narratives about who I am and the time I'm living in," he adds.
It's immediately apparent on B. Dolan's 2015 release, "Kill the Wolf," that he will never settle down in his exploration of hip-hop music. He started primarily as a slam poet gaining a reputation on HBO's "Def Poetry" in 2002 and spent years as a spoken word/slam poet before eventually transitioning into straight hip-hop.
"Hip-hop grabbed me from age 12," says Dolan. "When I first heard Scarface's album 'The Diary,' I started writing raps and also other things right after I heard it. Once I started, I never really turned down a challenge if a sort of writing interested me. I considered it all an exercise and still do. When I read some lyrics at an open mic, someone told me to go to the Nuyorican Poets Cafe which is where I got onstage for the first time. After that I started winning and a lot of people came to know me as a spoken word poet," he says.
His 2008 full-length debut, "The Failure," had guest appearances by two of the best MC's in history, Sole and Sage Francis, dabbling in avant-core hip-hop. With eccentric beats and lyrics, Dolan not only examines himself, but the entire format of hip-hop in general. The 2010 "Fallen House, Sunken City" was released on Sage's label, Strange Famous Records, and produced by Alias, one of the best beat-smiths on the planet. Those two variables gave that album an underground hip-hop sound, with Dolan's lyrics reaching his zenith of anger, walking the tightrope between protest tunes and raging at the dying of the light masterfully.
With "Kill the Wolf," Dolan proves beyond a shadow of a doubt that he is one of the best lyricists on Earth. He adds a full backing rock band for most of the tracks and his flow has moved away from a poetic approach to a forceful delivery that sells his calls to action. This isn't just a great new hip-hop album, it's an all-time classic just waiting to be discovered.
B. Dolan "Kill The Wolf" Tour
Wednesday, March 30, 8 p.m.
Volcanic Theatre Pub, 70 SW Century Dr., Bend
$5 adv., $8 door