Sage Francis put Rhode Island’s hip-hop scene into the national rap consciousness in the early ’00s, but Providence has struggled ever since to prove it has talent worthy of outside attention. “Rhode Island has always been a breeding ground for creative hip hop talent that is usually over-looked,” Providence producer Falside says. “Ten years ago the scene was bubbling … over time, MCs and groups moved on and the scene dissipated.” The success of local beat basher araabMUZIK has helped turn that around, but Juan Deuce and Falside are doing their part, too: Together the rapper and producer are creating swells in the Ocean State and pushing an underground scene back into the spotlight.
Apart, Deuce and Falside already have impressive discographies. Deuce’s most recent mixtape, Shits and Giggles, proved he could successfully navigate a varied range of production with playful charm, inducing ’90s nostalgia and earning a cosign from Sage himself as his favorite emcee to emerge from the state in five years. At only 22, Falside has produced beats for underground heavyweights ranging from Vast Aire (Cannibal Ox) to Jeru the Damaja, as well as Stalley, Action Bronson and Apollo the Great. His newest seasonal beat tape, Snare Conditioning, was an atypically airy offering that fell somewhere between his boom-bappy and experimental production styles. Building off the buzz of their latest respective projects, the two combined forces on Mechanics, which clocks in at a tidy seven tracks.
On the opening track, “Guts,” the pair tapped director Nicolas Heller a.k.a. Ricky Shabazz to get behind the lens. “The idea for the video came to me after watching Breaking Bad while muted with the beat to ‘Guts’ playing in the background,” Heller explains. It turned out to be a good source of inspiration. “Before Nick was ready to roll he said, ‘Alright, I need you guys to look like you just smoked a bunch of meth,’” Deuce remembers. “And all I remember was being so pumped up to try and pull this off.” Safe to say they did. Released around Halloween, the grim vision of the duo venturing through Providence on a drug-fueled night was debuted by director Rik Cordero on his new series Director’s Hub, boosting momentum before Mechanics was even released.
But according to Deuce, the title track is really the “nucleus” of the entire EP. Written from the ‘Mechanics’ beat on Falside’s Jesus Shaves tape, Deuce spits energetic alliterations over eerily building synths. Falside’s personal favorite is the horn-driven “Hey DJ,” the first track they built from scratch for the EP. “When we recorded it I could tell that we were going to have a solid project,” Falside recalls. “The creative process in the studio was fun and casual.” The Mechanics EP is only the beginning of a collaborative streak; they’re already planning on recording a full-length album this winter. Just in time for a new spring for Rhode Island’s hip-hop community. “Something is happening around here that is very unique, and I am fortunate to contribute to its growth,” Falside says. “I will always rep Providence.”
The Mechanics EP is out now.