Bella Futuro- Empire of Dirt
  + Tyler Baber - 11.21  
Tyler Baber [Decapolis Music Staff]; Age: 20; Top 5 bands: Starflyer 59, Pedro the Lion, Songs: Ohia, Havalina, Godspeed You! Black Emporer Musical preferences: I like music that makes me feel, anything that evokes a strong emotion is good to me. Likewise anything that sounds fresh or original will get an enthusiastic listen. Lyrics are as important as talented musicianship.

2003 will go down in rock music history books as the year indie kids learned to dance. Doubtlessly the seeds for this movement (pun intended) were planted in the distant past, and there have certainly been danceable bands garnering quite a bit of success in the indie world. It can be argued that the rock underground that spawned such things as moshing, slam dancing, and skanking. However this past year saw the black haired fashion core kid move from the back of the club, quit crossing his arms and bobbing his head and start moving his hips like an Elvis impersonator or a white middle schooler at a club. Hip-hop is no longer one of the genres avoided at all costs by elitists, electronica is no longer a nerd genre, and the ‘80s are no longer a forgettable music wasteland.

Bella Futuro is an amalgamation of all things danceable and hip. Ray Taddeo, the sole man behind this dark hip hop/rock project, has his roots in indie rock darling band the Operation (the same group that spawned mewithoutYou). On his debut EP Empire of Dirt, available on Make Break Records, Taddeo has traded his guitar for a mic and some dope beats. Citing Old Dirty Bastard/Big Baby Jesus/Dirt McGirt (all the same person, for those of you not aware of the Wu) as a major influence, Taddeo kicks five tracks of urbanized rock emceeing over some very, very hot beats.

Let’s begin with the music, because if you want to dance it’s the most important part. These are hip hop beats, but don’t think of the Neptunes or Timbaland. The bass isn’t bumping as much as it might from that Trans Am in the Wal Mart parking lot, these are guitarish synth based jams over chick-chick drum machine beats. Taddeo’s harder-edged guitar rock roots shine in his beat making skills with each instrument in the background played with like a lead.

The vocals are hoarse and angry, Taddeo’s gift is not speed but passion. He pleas to the listener with his rhymes as cries for change, attention, and empowerment. On “King of the World” and “Okay” he is a radical protestor pointing fingers at himself and the world, on “70x7” he is a manic street preacher hailing a second coming. He screams, shouts, moans, and gnashes his teeth with Levitical zeal. This Old Testament enthusiasm transcends into the lyrics (or is caused perhaps by the lyrics), rhymes about human incompetence and worldly dangers. This isn’t the same social consciousness as the trite pap of “Where is the Love” style anthems, this is fervent self deprecation and politic free protest.

Angry, dark and danceable, Empire of Dirt is a strong debut with a stronger sound.

Grade: B

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