The last time we checked in with the Toronto-based group, Dream Warriors was in ’91 and they were a duo releasing their debut album And Now The Legacy Begins (read my thoughts on that album here). Somewhere in between ’91 and ’95, King Lou and Capital Q decided to double the size of the crew, adding Spek and DJ Luv as official members of Dream Warriors. Not only did the DWs go from a duo to a quartet, but they also left 4th & Broadway and signed with Pendulum/EMI, where they would release their sophomore effort, Subliminal Simulation.
The Dream Warriors would produce most of the album with help from a few special guests (more on that in a bit). Subliminal Simulation would produce a couple of singles that pretty much remained silent. The album didn’t sell well, either and received mixed reviews upon its release. I’ve never heard any of the songs on Subliminal Simulation before this post, but since And Now The Legacy Begins was mildly entertaining and I found a used copy for a few bucks, I figured I’d give it a chance.
Intro – The album opens with warm laidback chords and a voice saying: “It is eternal power coupled with youth”. More on that later.
Are We There Yet – The Dream Warriors kick things off with a thick nasty bass line and two ill horn loops, while picking up where they left off at on Legacy Begins, spewing more super abstract rhymes. We also get to hear from the newest addition to the DWs, Spek, whose coded style falls right in line with Lou and Q’s. The DWs sound decent enough, but they could have rapped this song in Chinese and I would bob my head to the bangin’ instrumental.
Day In Day Out – This was the lead single from Subliminal Simulation. The DWs build the dope backdrop around a funky Millie Jackson loop as they discuss how the monotony of the daily grind can begin to take its toll on you. This was dope, and they even give a shout out to ATCQ at the end of the song. (Tribe Degrees of Separation: Check)
Adventures Of Plastic Man – The DWs give the floor to female spoken word artist, 99 to share a poem about how much she despises the feel of condoms inside her during sex and expresses how much she misses “a clean fuck”. I can’t knock a sista for liking the raw dog, but neither the poem or the aimless instrumental worked for me.
It’s A Project Thing – Now here’s a Premo gem I’m sure most of you didn’t know existed (including me before this post). My favorite producer of all time slides our Canadian friends a slick jazzy backdrop that they use to paint with more abstractions. Well done, Premo.
Paranoia – The ‘P’ Noise – I didn’t like anything about this one.
I’ve Lost My Ignorance – Guru joins the Dream Warriors on this one, as they celebrate (or mourn) losing their ignorance and replacing it with knowledge. I have a sneaking suspicion Guru didn’t write the few bars he spits on this song, since he sounds just as coded and riddled as his hosts. The rhymes are cool, but the jazzy groove (credited to the DWs and Gang Starr) is easy on the ears.
Break The Stereo – Not literally. The stereo the DWs speak of are stereotypes. I think? I wasn’t crazy about this one, but the instrumental is decent.
When I Was At The Jam – The DWs give spoken word artist, Black Katt some shine, as they play a portion of him performing one of his poems live. As far as spoken word pieces go, this was cool.
Burns 1 – 99 gets a second chance to share her poetry. This time around she’s talking about STDs over a trash instrumental that sounds like it might have been added on after she recorded her vocals. This was terrible.
Tricycles And Kittens – Speaking of STDs, I believe this song title is referring to STDs and women who have them. Butterfly (from the Digable Planets) stops by to add a few abstract bars to the DW’s heavily encrypted lyrics. Trying to decode their rhymes almost gave me a headache, but the instrumental feels good and I like the randomness an unconventional pairing of tricycles and kittens.
California Dreamin’ – This was the second and final single from Subliminal Simulation. The DWs loop up Les McCann’s “Go On And Cry”, as King Lou goes dolo, rhyming about what appears to be a woman, but the third verse makes it sound like the woman he’s been speaking about is a metaphor for his music. Lou’s bars may have left me confused, but the instrumental is clearly pleasing to the ears.
No Dingbats Allowed – If you don’t come with depth, the DWs aint fuckin’ with you. The Canadian based production team, Da Grassroots are responsible for the creamy yumminess in this instrumental.
You Think I Don’t Know -Black Katt shares another live poem reading. This time around he discusses the negative connotation put on the word “black”, before flippin’ it at the end. Or as he calls it: “Subconscious phycology reversed”. This was pretty dope.
Sink Into The Frame Of The Portrait – The instrumental sounds like the DWs made this for The Lion King Soundtrack. I’m not a fan.
I Wouldn’t Wanna Be Ya – And I wouldn’t wanna listen to this song again.
The CD version of Subliminal Simulation has a hidden unnamed track, which sounds like it may have been recorded a few years before the rest of the album (which would explain why King Lou and Capital Q keeping saying “It’s 1992” during the song). Over a Latin flavored instrumental, dripping with Samba vibes, Lou and Q sounds refreshed and nimble on the mic. This was dope.
Outro – The DWs bring back the warm vibes from the “Intro” and pose the question to the answer given at the beginning of the album. And with that, Subliminal Simulation is a wrap.
Let me start by saying that the Dream Warriors are competent lyricists, but trying to understand their rhymes is mentally exhausting. I’ve listened to Subliminal Simulation at least 10 times in the past few weeks, trying to grasp the meaning of the four man crews heavily encrypted bars, but I’m left scratching my head and in need of a nap. On the flip side, the DWs production easily translates to audio bliss. There are a few musical blunders and a couple of unwarranted interludes (in the form of spoken word pieces) on Subliminal Simulation, but overall the DWs create an enjoyable jazzy hip-hop atmosphere.
Maybe the Dream Warriors were trying to trick our subconscious into believing that their extremely abstract riddled rhymes have a deeper meaning, but in reality they just through together a bunch of words and made them sound profound. We may never know for sure, but it would explain the album title.