Tone Deft

With their DMT project, Eddie Def and DJ Cue are trying to rewrite the rules of hip hop

"I don't expect to capture that audience," he continues. "[DMT] is more like new wave breaking music." Both Def and Cue grew up in San Francisco in the '80s, when movies like Wildstyle and Beat Streetwere inspiring kids to bring sheets of tile out to the corners and do headspins. "It was crazy, it was like everyone had ski glasses and a Kangol, tagging on buses," Def remembers. Hip hop wasn't just something presented on a stage, it was young people participating in the streets and having fun, opening their minds to new sounds and rhythms.

DMT is dedicated to resurrecting the experimentation and the otherworldly feeling the early breakdance anthems had. "I'm trying to come in on the two [beat] instead of the one," Def explains. "Like on certain sequences there will be a loop, and then the drums go away, but the loop keeps going, and then something will come in on the three. Somebody who makes beats like DJ Shadow or DJ Krush might look at it like a sampling mistake, but I'm trying to do it like that. Like I'm trying to come in the back door."

But while the innovative approach of electro-funk and breaking music is kept alive by DMT, the tracks aren't especially easy to dance to -- the samples and loops are chopped up so as to be more brutal and twisted than funky. Cue is curious about what sort of physical reaction their music might cause. "It's cool to listen to in the car, but I want to hear it loud, like on a rave system. I just want to see what the hell happens to the crowd, if someone passes out or throws up. My goal is to really flip people out."

Eddie Def: "I just make [music] to tweak myself out."
Eddie Def: "I just make [music] to tweak myself out."


On Terminal Illness, Def takes half of one beat from the all-time body rocking classic "Good Times" by Chic and repeats it to the point where a dancer might blow a knee trying to mimic the groove. "I never make music really for people," he says. "I just make it to tweak myself out. Because I've been listening to music for so long, I think, 'what would tweak me out? I'm 28, I've been listening to this shit for years, I'm into the DJ scene, the whole hip hop shit, everything, what would freak me out that would be out there?' And that's when I start making stuff."

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