Basehead: Wikis


Note: Many of our articles have direct quotes from sources you can cite, within the Wikipedia article! This article doesn't yet, but we're working on it! See more info or our list of citable articles.


From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Also known as dc Basehead
Basehead 2.0
Origin Washington, D.C., United States
Genres Alternative rock, hip hop
Years active 1992—present
Labels Imago, Union of Vineyard Workers
Michael Ivey
Aaron Burroughs
Brendan Ciotta
Former members
Bill Conway
Keith Lofton
Clarence "Citizen Cope" Greenwood
Brian Hendrix
Jay Nichols
Aaron Burroughs

Basehead, also known as dc Basehead and Basehead 2.0, is an American alternative hip hop group formed by Michael Ivey in 1992. Ivey serves as the group's songwriter and leader, performing vocals and various instruments. Basehead's 1992 debut album, Play with Toys, was recorded at Ivey's home with various studio musicians. Ivey formed a touring band for live performances, which contributed to Basehead's second album, Not in Kansas Anymore. The group's current lineup consists of Ivey, drummer Aaron Burroughs and bassist Brendan Ciotta.

Basehead has received praise for its distinctive sound and lyrics. The group's music incorporates elements of various genres, including blues, funk, hip hop and rock. The lyrics of Play with Toys and Not in Kansas Anymore focus on subjects such as alcohol and cannabis use, depression, philosophy, politics and relationships. Beginning with the 1996 release of Faith, the group's lyrics have focused primarily on Christian themes, which carried over to its albums In The Name of Jesus, dc Basehead and Rockalyptic Music.



Basehead released its debut album, Play with Toys in 1992 on the small independent label Emigre.[1] Vocalist Michael Ivey recorded much of the album at his home on a four-track with various friends.[2] The album received favorable reviews and frequent airplay on college radio.[2] Rolling Stone reviewer Kevin Powell wrote that "Without being preachy, Basehead's unconventional style challenges listeners to get beyond their basic instincts and open their minds, search their souls."[3] Assembling a five-member touring band, Ivey toured the United States and Europe, opening for the Beastie Boys, Stone Temple Pilots, and Ween.[2][4] After College Music Journal featured Basehead on its cover, the group received attention from major labels, and signed with Imago Records, a former subsidiary of BMG the following year,[1] releasing its second studio album, Not in Kansas Anymore. Stephen Thomas Erlewine wrote that "Although it retains many of the same qualities of their critically-acclaimed debut [...] there's nothing that has the same sense of discovery that made Play with Toys an interesting record."[5]

In April 1994, Basehead recorded its third studio album, Faith,[6] which retained the musical elements of previous albums, but featured lyrics focusing on religious themes.[4][7] During this period, Ivey also formed a side project, Bastard Youth of Basehead, also known as B.Y.O.B.,[2][6] and founded I3Records, an imprint of Rykodisc Records focusing on alternative music aimed at and produced by African American musicians.[1] In December 1994, Imago separated from BMG, and Faith was not released until two years later.[6]. The album's release problems resulted in the cancellation of a planned tour between Basehead and B.Y.O.B.[6] Although some band members felt that they had not been given proper financial compensation for their work, Ivey stated that he took a smaller percentage of the songwriting credits than he was legally entitled to, and that the group's underpaid work would have "laid the groundwork" for future success if Faith did not have release problems.[6]

In 1998, Basehead released its fourth studio album, In The Name of Jesus on Union of Vineyard Workers. Allmusic reviewer Andrew Hamlin wrote that "Lyrically it's a solitary, rotting cabbage leaf."[8] The group changed its name to dc Basehead,[9] releasing their self-titled fifth album on November 19, 2002. Hamlin wrote that "One or two tracks jut on past their vocal portions like soundtrack music to a movie listeners can't see (or are meant to create with their own eyes), but on the whole the mastermind's unique combination of the whisper and the guttural, his effective use of subtly shifting patterns inside a repeating framework, and his talented co-conspirators lift DC into distinction."[10] Reforming as Basehead 2.0, the group released its sixth studio album, Rockalyptic Music in 2007. Basehead has gained the rights to all of its albums.[4]

Music and lyrics

Basehead's musical style, which fuses elements of blues,[3][11] funk,[6][12] hip hop,[2] pop,[2] psychedelic,[5] reggae,[13] rock[12] and rhythm and blues,[12] is often regarded as alternative hip hop and alternative rock.[2] David Jeffries described Play with Toys as "slacker rap".[14] According to Michael Ivey, "There are hip-hop elements in there, but if a hardcore hip-hop fan bought it, they might be disappointed".[13] Ivey also stated that Basehead's music "doesn't have the expected samples and sounds."[15] The lyrical themes of Play with Toys and Not in Kansas Anymore focus on diverse subjects, including alcohol and marijuana use,[11] depression,[14] philosophy,[3] politics,[3][15] racism,[15] and relationship breakups.[3] Francis Davis wrote that Ivey's lyrics "[subvert] both rock and gangsta-rap conventions."[11] Basehead's albums and performances feature live instrumentation, which differentiates the group's sound from that of mainstream hip hop artists who rely solely on sampled instrumentation.[15] On the group's albums, vocals and instruments are altered with studio techniques for effect.[11][15] Ivey's vocals mix singing and rapping.[3] According to Ivey, Basehead's former DJ, Clarence "Citizen Cope" Greenwood, "doesn't play music. He makes sounds—[he's] an instrument in his own self. He might scratch certain words for a special effect."[15]

In 1994, the group's lyrics shifted to Christian themes, starting with the album Faith.[6] Andrew Hamlin describes the lyrics of Faith as having "caught Ivey mid-capitulation. He wanted Jesus in his life but he also wanted his beer, his pot, his television, and his lust."[8] During the release of Faith, Ivey stated that Basehead's fourth studio album, In The Name of Jesus, would feature even more Christian-oriented lyrics than Faith.[6] Regarding the lyrics of In The Name of Jesus, Hamlin writes that "chanting praises leaves the Basehead mastermind without his characteristic wit, and he lacks the energetic exhortations that often lift gospel performers above sameness in material."[8] Regardling dc Basehead, Hamlin wrote that the album's lyrics were "miles in some direction or other from any stereotyped Christian rock bin."[10]

During a performance in which the group received a request for early material, Ivey stated "I'm still trying to work it out—how to follow God and still give you the old shit"[16] and introduced the group's Christian songs with self-deprecation, referring to the songs as "the new, reborn, love-God Basehead stuff."[16] In a 1998 interview, Ivey stated "I'm kind of wary of the Church. I know there's this whole Christian music market, but I don't think, theology-wise, I'm in agreement with a whole lot of Christians. [...] In fact, I don't know whether I like even being called a Christian."[16]

Band members

  • Michael Ivey — guitar, vocals[4]
  • Aaron Burroughs — drums[4]
  • Brendan Ciotta — bass[4]

Former members

  • Bill Conway — bass[6]
  • Keith "Lazy K" Lofton — guitar[6]
  • Clarence "Citizen Cope" Greenwood — turntables[6]
  • Brian Hendrix - drums[11]
  • Jay Nichols — drums[6]



  1. ^ a b c Ehrlich, Dimitri (November 1994). "The Suits: I3Records". Vibe 2 (9): 136.  
  2. ^ a b c d e f g Erlewine, Stephen Thomas. "Biography of Basehead". Allmusic. Retrieved 2009-02-18.  
  3. ^ a b c d e f Powell, Kevin (July 9, 1992). "Review of Play with Toys". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 2009-02-18.  
  4. ^ a b c d e f "About Us". Basehead. Retrieved 2009-02-18.  
  5. ^ a b Erlewine, Stephen Thomas. "Review of Not in Kansas Anymore". Allmusic. Retrieved 2009-02-18.  
  6. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l Kiviat, Steve (October 11, 1996). "You Gotta Have Faith". Washington City Paper. Retrieved 18 February 2009.  
  7. ^ Erlewine, Stephen Thomas. "Review of Faith". Allmusic. Retrieved 2009-02-18.  
  8. ^ a b c Hamlin, Andrew. "Review of In the Name of Jesus". Allmusic. Retrieved 2009-02-18.  
  9. ^ Binet, Stéphanie. "Orelsan, le rap à plat" (in French). France: Libération. Retrieved 18 February 2009.  
  10. ^ a b Hamlin, Andrew. "Review of DC". Allmusic. Retrieved 2009-02-18.  
  11. ^ a b c d e Davis, Francis (2004). "Black Faces, Black Masks". Jazz and its Discontents. A Francis Davis Reader. Da Capo Press. p. 264. ISBN 0306810557.  
  12. ^ a b c Smith, Danyel (1993). "Review of Not in Kansas Anymore". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 2009-02-18.  
  13. ^ a b Larkin, Colin (1998). "Basehead". The Virgin Encyclopedia of Dance Music. Virgin. p. 27. ISBN 0753502526.  
  14. ^ a b Jeffries, David. "Review of Play with Toys". Allmusic. Retrieved 2009-12-06.  
  15. ^ a b c d e f Morris, Chris (March 6, 1993). "Basehead Asks: Do You Wanna (Moan)?". Billboard 105 (10): 26.  
  16. ^ a b c Kiviat, Steve (December 18, 1998). "Leap of Faith". Washington City Paper. Retrieved 18 February 2009.  

External links

Got something to say? Make a comment.
Your name
Your email address