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Frank N Dank

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When you’re the protégés of arguably the most sought after hip hop producer not named Pharrell or Kanye (read: Jay Dilla) the stakes is high. Over the last four years, global rap enthusiasts have reached orgasm via Detroit-bred Frank and Dank 12” singles. That’s not debatable. But what’s their formula? Well, for starters, they’re uninhibited like Paris Hilton on them bootleg love tapes, but in the musical sense. Yep, there’s a reason their “Take Dem Clothes Off” (ABB) single generated international DJ and chart accolades without a video or CD release.

Two, you’ll never ever hear F&D rhyme over throwaway beats ‘cause Dilla’s got their back and genuine hip hop heads need to be kept happy. Legions of rap purists from the USA to Ukraine continually jones for the piles of Jay Dilla-produced Frank and Dank 12” singles; from “Everybody Get Up” (Fat Beats), “Love Is A Thing of The Past” (Fat Beats), “Push” (Groove Attack), and UK group Spacek’s “Eve” remix, to the b-side track “Move” from Dilla’s anthemic NWA re-tool “Fuck the Police”.

Three, undeniable rhyme chemistry built up over 20 years of friendship sure as hell don’t hurt on the mic. “Pause” from Jay Dilla’s popular 2001 Beat Generation series album Welcome 2 Detroit perfectly demonstrates why Frank is the Yin, to Dank’s Yang. And lastly, because F&D rhyme about female attraction (often) and clandestine street activities (honestly), they tend to get respect from the thugs who buy 50 Cent or Jay-Z records. Unlike the growing legions of emcee’s who boast about their ‘hood exploits—from their 25 room house in Forest Hills—F&D have always come off as credible slum correspondents, laying out the template for future Detroit player/hustler-cum-emcee’s looking to get over.

After releasing nearly two albums worth of buzz-worthy singles and despite touring with Jay Dee across the US, London, Japan, Germany, Paris and Amsterdam, and scoring tour dates alongside Tribe Called Quest, The Roots, Slum Village, Common, Ludacris and Wyclef Jean one might assume that F&D already possess a ghetto (or legitimate) gold record plaque, but that’s not the case at all. In fact, the Jay Dilla-produced “48 Hours” bootleg LP is the only album to their credit.

On their debut X-tended Play Version 3.13, Dank bravely addresses the reason fans have had to wait over two years for a full album on the deeply personal “MCA”, a song critiquing what music insiders call the Music Cemetery of America label for new artists. Dank pens an open letter highlighting their dilemma after sitting in label “pushback” purgatory. “I had to honestly tell music fans what it’s like being locked down in a contract with no money or singles coming out, unreturned calls from label reps, having to endure a label’s collapse and then having to work at Salvation Army for $4 hour,” “It’s a warning for artists out there, a learning tool to take care of your business”.

X-tended Play Version 3.13 features 13 cuts slickly disguised as club and radio songs, but really they’re all about exposing how ‘hood life is much the same everywhere. It’s soul music for players. “Nice To Meet You”, a track genetically engineered for radio airplay, is a self-described “grown man” safe-sex love song rapped over Gilla House/Def Jam recording artist Saukrates’ cosmic slop, down tempo funk. Says Frank: “most artists disguise their sexual intent with the ladies, we’re saying if two mutually consenting adults want to party, let’s be open about it”. Jive Records reggae-pop trio Brick and Lace’s croon on the hypnotic hook. Likewise, on radio single “Sexy” the duo give in to their carnal desires paying homage to head-turning Halle Berry-esque honeys. Yep, Frank and Dank are obsessed with hotties, but tales of female seduction never sounded so good. Jay Dilla beat fanatics will get their fix on a batch of songs including “Okay”, which flaunts his inventive loops, drums, and overall progressive stripped-down percussive melodies.

With their “Mcnasty Filth” single (featured on Jaylib’s Champion Sound) presently scorching video airwaves, by most accounts, X-tended Play Version 3.13 is the album that will place them on the cusp of mainstream acceptance, much like their friends and former school classmates T3 (Slum Village) and Proof (D12). X-tended Play Version 3.13 will mutate F&D from underground 12” legends into overground heat-seeking rap chart movers. Two-way your peeps ‘cause resistance to one of Detroit’s finest musical exports is futile.

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