DVS Mindz: Wikis

  

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DVS Mindz
Origin Topeka, Kansas,
United States
Genres Rap, Hip-Hop
Years active 1993–present
Associated acts Tech N9ne, 57th St. Rogue Dog Villains
DVS Mindz

DVS Mindz was an underground rap music group from Topeka, Kansas that was active primarily from the mid-1990s to the mid-2000s. The group's name stands for Dope Versatile Styles Manifested IN a Direction to Zucceed. The group's classic lineup consisted for four MCs: Str8jakkett, Killa The Hun, D.O.P.E., DL; and a DJ, Kutaculous. The group's sound was sparse, with raw beats and furious, nonstop rhyming from all members. While the group had very catchy material, many of its songs featured no chorus, just a sparse beat and verse after verse from the MCs. The group's lyrics were packed with inside jokes, mythology, pop-culture references, puns, numerology, religion, violence, and obscure references to the group's history. Each member also had alter egos and pseudonyms, and they sometimes rapped in those voices. During its decade-long career, DVS Mindz released one critically acclaimed CD, and opened for a number of notable rap acts, including Run DMC, Wu Tang Clan, Sugarhill Gang, Redman, De La Soul, Digital Underground, Das EFX, Black Sheep, and Goodie Mob.[1]

Contents

Formation and Early Work

DVS Mindz formed in 1993 when rappers Str8jakkett and Killa The Hun, who met in middle school, began collaborating on music. D.O.P.E. signed on a few months later and the trio debuted Nov. 4, 1993, at a Topeka talent show.[2]

The group's original sound owed major influence to hardcore East Coast rap groups such as the Wu Tang Clan, as well as old-school rap acts such as Erik B and Rakim. The trio began recording and performing in earnest, eventually landing two tracks on a 1998 compilation entitled "I.C.U.: The Revival." The tracks were "No Coast" and "Real MCs," both of which showcased the group's lyrical prowess, dexterous verbal interplay, and growing confidence. Through numerous shows in the Topeka, Lawrence, and Kansas City areas, DVS Mindz was becoming a popular live attraction.

The group eventually recruited two more members who solidified the group's classic lineup, DJ Kutaculus and a young MC named DL. The group took refuge in a dilapidated house at 1137 N. Sawyer in Topeka, Kansas. Unable to afford utilities, the group paid for just enough electricity to run their recording gear. During this time, the group bonded and wrote a number of its most popular songs. The number 1137 also became a popular lyrical theme for DVS, cropping up in songs such as "No Coast" and "Tired of Talking."

In December, 1999, the group opened for U-God, an affiliate of the Wu-Tang Clan, at the Bottleneck in Lawrence, Kansas. The group caught the eye of journalist-filmmaker Geoff Harkness, who wrote a glowing review of the group's Bottleneck performance that was published in the Lawrence Journal-World. Harkness wrote an extensive article about the group a few months later, which appeared on the cover of a local music weekly.

Million Dolla Broke Niggaz

In May, 2000, the group released its debut album, Million Dolla Broke Niggaz, which contained tracks that dated back as far as 1994. The album spawned two popular songs, "Niggaz" and "Tired of Talking," both of which were nominated for song of the year by the The Pitch. These and other songs showcased a much harder sound than the previous DVS Mindz recordings, surprising some of the group’s long-time fans. The group was also singled out by members of the local rap-music elite, who claimed that DVS Mindz was posturing and boring. Kansas City music writer JJ Hensley noted that “There are two schools of thought on the Mindz: those who think DVS Mindz is the area's tightest rap group and those who think their rhymes are unoriginal and their beats add nothing to the songs. There's some merit to both arguments."[3]

Demencha Magazine weighed in with a review that compared the CD to "classic West Coast underground artists like Living Legends and Heiroglyphics come to mind as far as comparisons when you listen through these choice tracks featured off DVS’ Million Dolla Broke Niggaz album. They don’t pay much attention to choruses on this CD, in favor of just spitting flames back and forth for 15 tracks. More than half the album’s songs go for between 6–8 minutes in duration, and to hear these guys just trade verses (a’la Wu-Tang on 'Triumph') is amazing. Simply, Million Dolla Broke Niggaz is some old-school, local, underground shit in it’s rawest form."[4] Str8jakkett explained the group's approach to recording this way: "It’s not that we didn’t know about counting bars, we just didn’t give a shit about counting bars. We wanted to spit. We come from a different era, as opposed to a lot of the younger guys coming into the game. They do a 16 and a chorus and a 16 and a chorus. We came up in the tundra. Spit. Give it your all. What was on that album, Million Dolla Broke Niggaz, was what I like to call 'off the corner rap.' Ain’t nobody trying to hear no chorus man, you know what I’m saying?"

Shawn Edwards Controversy

In July 2000, local writer Shawn Edwards singled out DVS Mindz in a scathing review of a Memorial Day "beach concert" held at the Kansas City International Raceway. Edwards wrote: “20 local rap groups that had paid for the opportunity to perform delivered second-rate sets ... None of the groups, including rap veterans DVS Mindz from Topeka, captured the crowd's attention. They paced the stage, spewing out unintelligible lyrics. The audience wasn't rude -- but it clearly was unimpressed. As they tried to capture the crowd's attention, most of the artists began calling the people in the audience ‘motherfuckers’ and yelling ‘Suck my dick!’ They started talking down to people in the audience, calling them ‘haters’ for not responding to their music, and they invited women to dance explicitly on stage. The crowd briefly got excited as young women flashed their breasts, but the strip-club antics grew tiresome as each group tried the same stunts.”[5]

Killa The Hun

DVS Mindz felt they had been singled out for ridicule in connection to a concert that had far deeper problems than subpar sets by its performers. "No Respect" then became the unofficial Y2K battle cry for DVS Mindz, which took time out at every show to preach from the pulpit about the evils of the local music bureaucracy. Over time, these diatribes snowballed into full-blown conspiracy theories.[6]

The group addressed the Edwards article from the stage at Lawrence's Liberty Hall on August 7, 2000, when it opened for the Wu Tang Clan. Kansas City music writer Andrew Miller wrote that DVS Mindz, "delivered a fierce set teeming with intensity and emotion. Using stop-and-start beats and group recital in an impressive fashion, the crew spit fire on tracks such as "Tired of Talking," and its DJ showed and proved on the turntables after the set was done. Like Wu-Tang, DVS treated fans to some "real live a cappella hip-hop lyrics," with one rant that blasted the music industry for sleeping on the Midwest and several others that brutally lambasted Pitch writer Shawn Edwards, who the group felt gave it a bum rap in his piece 'One More Chance.' ... This was the group's big-time showcase, and it proved to a tightly packed crowd and two touring bands that it deserves major-label interest."[7]

Edwards eventually apologized for the flap and introduced the group onstage at the Hurricane in the fall of 2000. A few weeks later Million Dolla Broke Niggaz, which was nominated for “best local release” by The Pitch, lost to Shiner’s "Starless," furthering the group’s paranoia that the local press was out to get them.[8] In March 2002, DVS was up for another award from the Pitch, this time for "best rap artist." According to writer Jason Meier, while attending The Pitch awards ceremony, "DVS Mindz provided one of the nights most classless moves. Within seconds of hearing that they lost to Tech 9Nine for another year, the group tossed their chairs high in the air, which made for a thunderous crashing sound as they stormed out of the theater."[9] Perhaps unsurprisingly, the local press soured on DVS Mindz. The group's performances became increasingly erratic around this time, the once ferocious live act turning in the occasional uninspired set. The band continued to perform live, but internal squabbles and a virtual press blackout had pushed DVS Mindz to the breaking point.

Later Years and Solo Work

G-Coffee

DVS Mindz had more than two dozen tracks left over from the Million Dolla Broke Niggaz sessions. These songs included, "Headhunters," "Rowdy Hip-Hoppers," "Central Time Zone," "Let It All Hang Out," "Birds," and "Sleeping on the Midwest." The group also had new material, including tracks such as "Flamethrower," "Desperadoes," "Hatersville" and "Genocide," all of which were performed live at various concerts. Other new songs that were demoed included "Money is the Root of All Evil," "Smoking Song," "The Gospel of John," "Deeper Than Most," and "You Don't Want No Beef." A new song, "Heat," which had become a live staple, was issued on the 2001 compilation "Scars and Tattoos." DVS Mindz also completed a full-length documentary film entitled DVStory, directed by Geoff Harkness, which has never been released to the public.[2]

D.O.P.E.

In May, 2001, DL guested on a track entitled “Devious” by the Lawrence frat-funk group Phat Albert.[10][11]

In March, 2002, Kutaculous released a compilation disc entitled G-Coffee, that consisted of tracks recorded with various rappers in his Topeka studio. The members of DVS Mindz appeared on the disc, but there was no group track.[12]

D.O.P.E. eventually left the group and began a solo career under the name D Dot. with a slightly more commercial sound (his management company felt that the name D.O.P.E. was not marketable). [13] D.O.P.E. issued a mixtape, Live @ the BarberShop, and a full-length solo album, Dangerous On Paper & Etc.: The D.O.P.E. LP, was released in July, 2005. The album featured 17 tracks, 14 produced by D.O.P.E.[13] A followup, N.O.C.O.A.S.T., was released the next year. A single entitled "Someone 4 Me" was played on several radio stations across the country. D.O.P.E. also continued to work as a producer, including work on a large portion of Str8jakkett's Mood Swings album. He was offered a major-label deal with Arista Records that fell through when the label folded. He is currently working on a new album, "Beats Rhymes & Life".

Though DVS Mindz has never officially broken up, it remains largely inactive. The group members continue to make music separately, although they remain friendly and work together or reunite on stage from time to time. The group has also reformed under various guises, including most recently as a trio featuring Str8jakkett, Killa The Hun, and former manager Hapacuzz, operating out of the Denver area.[14]

In 2007, Str8jakkett released his solo debut, the 20-track Mood Swings, which received a lukewarm review from The Pitch writer Andrew Miller: “His beats sound like they've been sitting on the shelf for at least a decade ... at 78 minutes, Mood Swings runs a few tracks too long and includes the standard rap-album filler: voice-mail messages, a bank-robbery skit and a fake live radio spot from ‘DJ Dick Goesinya at Club Nutsack.’"[15] Mood Swings included a re-recording of the unreleased DVS Mindz track "Flamethrower," with Str8jakkett replacing the second and third verses recorded by DL and Killa The Hun, respectively. Another old DVS Mindz song, "Birds," was given a complete makeover, as was a retooled version of "DVS Mindbender," which appeared in its original form on Million Dolla Broke Niggaz.

Growing Critical Recognition

In recent years, DVS Mindz has received growing critical acclaim as a seminal rap group in the Kansas City-Lawrence-Topeka music scene. In 2008, Topeka journalist Zach Trimble wrote that “DVS Mindz virtually created the Kansas rap landscape”[16]

References








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