Dabrye - Biography
Tadd Mullinix’s Dabrye project has become a fixture in electronic music over the past decade. Although Mullinix explores a variety of dance music such as acid house, IDM and techno under aliases such as James T. Cotton and SK-1, it's Dabrye’s electro-infused machine funk take on hip-hop that has gained Mullinix the most success. From his early instrumental tracks to working with some of underground rap’s biggest MCs, Dabrye’s sound has always mixed the detail oriented with the booty shaking with hypnotic results.
Based in Ann Arbor, MI, Mullinix has been part of the Ghostly International label’s close circle from the imprint’s beginnings in 1999. After exploring IDM styles with a release under his own name in 2000, Mullinix debuted his Dabrye moniker with 2001’s One/Three on Ghostly International. Instantly and widely hailed as one of instrumental hip-hop’s bright new producers, the Dabrye sound emerged fully formed on One/Three. Tracks like “The Lish,” “So Scientific” and the single “Hyped-Up Plus Tax” deftly merged uptempo electro grooves with classic hip-hop breaks, neon synth lines, sawtooth bass and innovative electronic textures. Mullinix’s drum programming skills are stunning, managing to seamlessly merge the synthetic with the organic for a future-forward and economically funky sound.
2002 brought a mini album for Prefuse 73’s Eastern Developments label titled Instrmntl. Continuing his exploration of minimalist funk, Mullinix weaves a sonic web of golden era hip-hop, abstract electronics and progressive electro styles. Slightly warmer than his debut, Instrmntl works with a larger sound palette. Tracks like “Evelyn” and “D-Town Tabernacle Choir” incorporate horns, flute and electric piano into this mix. Again, its Mullinix’s standout drum programming that really vaults this collection over the edge.
After several 12” singles, including work with Prefuse 73 and Jay Dee, Ghostly International released Additional Productions Vol. 1 in ’05. The compilation collects several remixes Dabrye did for T. Raumschmiere, Trans Am, Nomo, Ill Suono and Bus along with a live version of “Hyped-Up Plus Tax” and a new track titled “Nite Eats Day” featuring a rap from Beans of Antipop Consortium.
In 2006 Dabrye released a single titled Air that features rapper MF Doom. The track was a taster for Mullinix’s next proper full-length. Two/Three came later that same year. Arguably the strongest Dabrye record to date, the album features guest raps on almost every track and pushes Dabrye’s sound closer to classic hip-hop. Dabrye takes a backseat on the tracks that feature MCs, letting his subtly complex production set the tone. Standouts include the single “Air,” “The Stand” featuring Wildchild, “Get It Together” featuring Finale and Invincible and “That’s What’s Up” featuring Vast Aire from Cannibal Ox. Six instrumental tracks are mixed in and claim some of the album’s best moments. From the dubwise bounce of “Tell Dem” to the dark throb of “Jorgy” Mullinix reminds us that his music can stand on its own.
2008 saw Dabrye align with the rising sound of wonky hip-hop and dubstep with Get Dirty EP. British dubstep producer Kode 9 and L.A. avant-hip-hop extraordinaire Flying Lotus turn in excellent remixes from Two/Three. Mullinix himself offers a killer new track called “Get Dirty” featuring MC AG. ’08 also found Dabrye remixing King Midas Sound for Kode 9’s Hyperdub label.
While we wait for the next development in Dabrye’s discography, it’s easy to hear why his productions have caused such a stir in the beat music community. From the perfect fusion of hip-hop and IDM on One/Three and Instrmntl through to the innovative rap of Two/Three, Mullinix always manages to create a perfect groove that shakes the ass and the mind.