Babyfather BBF Hosted by DJ Escrow Hyperdub
At his recent art show, Dean Blunt’s fans flocked to a London gallery for what turned out to be an exhibition compromised of a single stock photo and the high-pitched screech of anti-loitering technology usually used to deter “intimidating” youths from public spaces. This sentiment has been the cornerstone to his success as a non-conformist and fearless (or even arrogant, some would protest) provocateur.
It’s never been straightforward with Blunt, and BBF Hosted by DJ Escrow takes his confrontational message about identity and outsider politics one step further. DJ Escrow – who seems to be Blunt’s fictional creation – spouts the ramblings of an aspiring MC who’s brimming with youthful bravado and masked insecurity. His brags are alternately soundtracked by soft acoustic guitar playing, and horrifically intense white noise.
The album opens with (what sounds like) a looped sample of Craig David’s 2000 MOBOs acceptance speech for Best RnB act: the sentence ‘This makes me proud to be British’ is repeated for three and half minutes. This theme creeps back in over jarring noise throughout the album. Thought provoking or just confusing, many listeners will frustrate themselves when considering whether or not Blunt’s works are ingenious social commentary or whether he’s just laughing at us.
But despite the conceptual trickery, Blunt’s sound – which often sees melancholic strings wash over dubby hip-hop – is often deeply affecting, and his smoky baritone barely conceals his emotion. Is the search for meaning behind Blunt’s work as futile as a stoned and paranoid trip down a rabbit hole? Rather than rationalise Blunt, maybe it’s best to just recognise both the humour and the pain of his music.