When Dom Flemons was in the studio making his album Prospect Hill, the engineer made a casual comment that pushed the material in an unexpected direction. “Maybe you should sell some of those beats to a hip-hop artist!” the engineer quipped.
Flemons and his collaborator, Guy Davis, had been tracking bass and snare drum duets in the style of traditional fife and drum music. The engineer, connecting these rhythms to hip hop beats, set Flemons’ creative gears into overdrive. What if the style of the recording merged these two seemingly disparate African-American music genres?
When Flemons and Davis got the rhythm tracks off the shelf at a subsequent session, for What Got Over, they knew exactly what to add. The results combine buoyant emceeing with a skeletal rhythm section of snare and bass drums.
To Flemons, an omnivorous listener, hip hop has always been on his radar and part of his repertoire. He cut his teeth as a spoken word performer and, at the time of these sessions, was devouring Ed Piskor’s graphic novel on the genesis of hip-hop. Bridging these two genres was a direct extension of his interests.
In a special bonus episode of American Songster Radio, Flemons revisits three of his beat-based tracks and relates the circumstances of their creation.
You can download What Got Over for free at Dom’s website.