Dyme Def’s new full-length album, Yuk The World, features the track “Fresher in my Kicks” which is, for my money, the best song the group has ever done. It was a little surprising to see it included here because it’s old (at least by rap standards) but it’s only right that it finds a proper home on an “official” DD release.

In this blogger’s estimation, the trio of Brainstorm, S.E.V. and Fearce Villain are the most important rap group currently operating in Seattle, and a track like “Fresher in my Kicks” is the reason why. Superficially the joint is just about shoes, a tribute to the ubiquitous hip-hop classics like Jordans and Air Force Ones. Turning the track over, however, and having a look at the sole reveals something more revelatory: A somber reflection on what the rappers’ kicks have carried them through, both physically and spiritually. For Dyme Def, shoes have been vehicles for expression, for fashion, for upping rep, and, more figuratively, as protection — a type of armor to lace up as preservation against a brutal outside world.

On YTW (and on the group’s first LP, Space Music) you find many sentiments like these. “Blaastin Off” is an optimistic dedication to finding something better, an escape from tribulations as caught in the rear-view mirror. “When it Rains” finds Brainstorm reflecting in the most literal terms possible on growing up without a father. This all sounds fairly dispiriting, so for those uninitiated to Dyme Def’s hustle it should be noted emphatically that this is a group that prefers to rap about good times, something they do better than anyone else in Town. (Much credit should be given to the group’s primary producer, BeanOne, whose drums on Yuk The World carry the most trunk-rattling knock of any local release this year.)

I’m of the belief that the majority of Seattle doesn’t have a real understanding of what goes on in the city’s South End. Maybe they do in theory, but the philosophical disconnect that exists between north and south of Jackson (or, more accurately, between light and dark complexions in any of Seattle’s geographic districts) is something that’s not bridged nearly as much as it should be.

Dyme Def expresses a vivid representation of this city’s stark divide in race and class. I remember a brief period of time spent working with high school kids in the South End, boys with stories that matched those of Brainstorm’s exactly. These particular young people laced up the same kicks as Dyme Def and for exactly the same reasons — yet more layers of armor for traversing life’s rugged terrain.

Yuk The World contains a dose of reality Seattle needs to hear: It is not all good, rap fans — even in your own backyard. But the one edifying thing about all this, and what Dyme Def themselves portray in their music, is that when everything around you seems covered in shit, the sweet stuff seems that much more syrupy. And right there alone is cause for celebration.

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