While most music is by musician’s whose form of art is there music, Aphiah “Duals” Cey-Jude is seen more as an artist where one of his forms of art happens to be manifested in music. Duals became interested in art and more specifically, poetry from almost as soon as he was old enough to read and write. His early inspirations in music were James Brown and Bob Dylan. Later on in life the he became enamored with Cat Power. Plagued by a traumatic childhood, “Duals” is the duality of depravity and love that the concept of man is tied to.
Of his latest album, “Honesty Is Mandatory”, Duals says: “This album started as a stand to quit running…A final scream to end the pain we’ve all endured, and a plea for social change…Towards the end it became a poem of love and eternity, an ultimate thanking to God.”
Sometimes you hear an album that so deeply enriches your world you just have to listen to it over and over again. You want to savor it, make it last, so you dole it out to yourself endless times. “Honesty Is Mandatory” is one of those albums. It strengthens the art by transcending its norms, by showing that there is always more – more things that need to be said, more ways to say them, more ways to approach your personal expression. And that hip-hop is only a vehicle for that expression.
This album is a coming of age tale; coming to terms with your demons, meeting them, and then annihilating them! Dense gritty beats filled with ultra-creative sounds and effects deliver a search for truth between oddball narratives, confessions and brilliant poetry.
Duals seduces, challenges, criticizes and sometimes redeems a culture that has all but lost it’s social, political and humanitarian bearings. Hip hop, like every art form, is a reflection of complex human conditions. It cannot be reduced to any trite, simplistic set of axioms, trends or values. To reduce “Honesty Is Mandatory” to standout tracks, the beats or simply Duals’ rhyme and flow, would be a heresy to what has been produced here.
Perhaps the best way to appreciate this album is just to put it on and press play, listening from start to finish. Sure you’ll bump into tracks that may please your ears more than others, such as, “Life Is A Paradox”, “Give Me That Loop Fool (Sarcasm Ensues)” and “Defense Mechanism” or “Saint Jeanne D’Arc (Feat Sara Martin, Spencer Hann)” and “Big Sisters And Stuffed Animals”, but once you start listening with your heart and soul, you’ll find greater enjoyment in the other tracks too.
This album is simply phenomenal. Aphiah “Duals” Cey-Jude does more than just examine himself, relationships with other people and the way this world is working. Each song grapples with issues that most emcees wouldn’t dare think about, never mind rhyme about. This personal integrity is what drives “Honesty Is Mandatory” beyond its boundaries.
I will not lie; this is not an easy album to listen to – especially if you’re still stuck on Lil’ Wayne or 50 Cent. But Duals’ creativity is filling a missing void in hip-hop – where the words truly mean more than the beats!