Dictators Die is a new album from Denver-based producer, Meace. What distinguishes Meace from a lot of hip hop and chillwave oriented producers is that he has a lot of classical/traditional music training, which he incorporates into his recordings. The songs on Dictators Die demonstrate a heightened level of musical competence and creativity. With the blending of so many elements and styles, it’s difficult to even pin down this music’s particular genre. Acoustic guitar is combined with “loungy” piano melodies, stylish beats and profound vocal samples. My favorite component to the sound landscape is the synth elements. The synths are just very ethereal and and enchanting and enhance the songs with an analog, retro-futuristic quality wherever they appear.
Despite the provocative title, the album’s messaging is more subtle and abstract, allowing the music and samples to do the talking through mood, tone and ambiance. According to Meace, the album “tells the story of my own journey to music production competence, but in a larger sense it tells the story of me becoming my own person and escaping the traumas of my childhood.” In this sense, the term “Dictators Die” isn’t necessarily referring to a literal dictator, but could be interpreted as escaping the forces that have controlled us or kept us from reaching out potential since we were young. These forces could be represented by actual individuals that have oppressed us in our lives or merely our own “mental” limitations we’ve imposed upon ourselves, or perhaps even some combination of both.
One of the more intriguing tracks is Patterns, which features a kind of dreamlike, 70’s scifi intro that pulls you in like a tractor beam. The intro actually reminds me of soundtracks from films like, Android (1982) and Saturn 3 (1981). It’s reflective and desolate in a charming way. The action slowly builds, and the mix becomes more involved the song is energizing and vibrant. Choose Your Family is one of the few recognizably “hip hop” jams on here, and it spices things up just at the right time and rounds things off nicely.
While this album could technically be considered lo-fi, the production quality is pretty advanced. It sounds more like a solid and stylish stereophile-tier recording than something that was recorded on an old, garage sale purchased Fostex 4-track. Having said that, it does have that authentic, avant garde appeal that’s typically associated with lo-fi music. There’s genuine artistry and structure as well. This isn’t just a hodgepodge of stuff thrown together in a musical collage. Meace’s instrumental training and technical skill allows the musical aspect to keep pace with the album’s intellectual momentum.
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