January 15, 2010

My Gut Reaction: Prop Dylan - Boombox of Lost and Found (2009)

Anybody that follows Hip Hop Isn't Dead on Twitter may have noticed that, on one of my more-sporadic-than-I-would-like tweets, I mentioned that my New Year's resolution for the blog was to do a better job with sorting through what was in my inbox. The first recipient of my e-mail cleansing is this man on the right, Prop Dylan, owner of one of the best rap names I've heard all year. Hopefully this will encourage other new and lesser-known artists to try to use HHID as a promotional stop, which I will be happy to oblige with if the music is any fucking good.

Prop Dylan is a Swedish artist who has actually been in the game since 1999, so he would hardly qualify as "new", but I had never heard of him before his e-mail, and chances are that you two hadn't, either. In his decade-plus, he's managed to work alongside such blogger favorites as Termanology, Masta Ace, and Trife da God (Theodore Unit), opened up for the likes of Talib Kweli and J-Live, and released two albums and an EP, all of which have earned him a following in his home country.

His most recent release, Boombox of Lost and Found, is a free mixtape that plays like an album: it has no intro, contains zero skits, and, as far as I can tell, none of the instrumentals (mostly provided by frequent collaborator Logophobia, although DJ Connect, Bob Air, C.H., Sakke Aalto, and ProAktive Beats all lend a hand as well) are recycled from the hits of bigger artists. Instead, Prop Dylan fills the free project with fourteen actual songs, in an effort to win over hip hop fans worldwide.

Which could very well happen.

Prop Dylan starts Boombox of Lost and Found off with a celebratory introductory track, one with a beat that sounds familiar, but I cannot place the sample right now: I've officially listened to waaaay too many rap songs at this point. I'm still not sure what is so threatening about the imagery of a flying penguin (I keep picturing a character from the Super Mario Bros. universe that may or may not exist), but Prop's lyrical flow is engaging enough, and he sounds like a veteran artist with several hits under his belt, which is nice.

This song just didn't work for me. The drums on here sound pretty good, and your head may, in fact, nod, but the rest of the instrumental only sounded okay, and Prop's dismissal of those who didn't support him while he was off following his dreams (these type of tracks can fill their own sub-genre of hip hop: I suppose people really don't expect much from those that proclaim that they want to rhyme for a living) hits the same points as everyone else who has complained about the same in song.

The pseudo-reggae beat masks a dark theme within its happy-go-lucky song structure, as do a lot of pseudo-reggae beats. The sound is clean, and Prop sounds more like the fully formed guy from “Flying Penguin” and not the guy from “What Goes Up”, but I still didn't care for this one. I'll give you a hint: it was the hook that killed it for me. Not much of a surprise, I know.

Prop Dylan twists the average underground rapper's hatred toward the fake-ass “artists” who populate radio airwaves into a diatribe as to how these same guys are destroying our chosen genre. It's a valid complaint, and he expresses it well. The hook is detrimental to the song overall, though: for some reason, the combination of the chorus and the instrumental reminded me of some of Eminem's self-produced piffle, although I will quickly note that this track is much better than that terrible comparison. Alas, no Radiohead references appear, but what can you do?


The boom-bap on here sounds like a more-than-decent impersonation of DJ Premier; in fact, the “hook” is also made up of sampled sound bites a la Primo. This isn't just a serviceable imitation, though: Sakke Aalto's beat could actually be mistaken for one of those instrumentals that Chris Martin gives to underground rappers in New York at bargain-basement rates. For his part, Prop's rhymes are also engaging: when put to this beat, there is no way they could fail. This shit was pretty nice.

Prop rhymes his ass off over a simple buzz of a beat. The scratching (and boardwork)from DJ Connect was a nice touch, but this track left me feeling a bit empty. It just felt like it was missing something: it didn't hit me as hard as I had hoped, given the song's title.

The title is kind of redundant, and the song contains R&B vocal samples that actually get in the way, but other than that, the instrumental isn't bad. Lyrically, Prop Dylan dons his best Talib Kweli impression, and it doesn't suit him, so this was disappointing. Then again, I think Cannibal Ox own the hip hop patent with their own “Scream Phoenix”, so...

C.H.'s beat sounds like something Ghostface Killah would build a fucking six bedroom/four bath home in, and Prop does pretty good for himself as well. In fact, a remix featuring Ghost may be in order. I'm just saying, Prop.

The typical “self-aware rapper” track. You know, the one where the artist talks about following his dreams, hoping for the best but preparing for the worst, blessed (cursed?) with the knowledge that it is entirely possible that he may not hit it big. Prop seems to be ready for either outcome, with a soulful beat that goes down easily.

Maybe it's the beat, which sounds like it could have come from Just Blaze's third cousin twice removed on his mother's side, but Prop comes across as a cross between Joell Ortiz and Freeway. I like both of those guys, so that combination works for me. For a song called “Live It Up”, I was expecting the rampant optimism to be so overwhelming that it would push me out of the window, and that didn't quite happen, but this still wasn't that bad.

This was dope as fuck. ProAktive Beats provides an instrumental that is calm but moving, as if it's actually trying to help alleviate your high blood pressure. Both Prop Dylan and his guest also come off as impressive as hell together. I imagine fans of late 1990s reflective hip hop will fucking love this song, and they will have every right to.

Logophobia's beat fucking bangs on here. It sounds so good that it could become the man's anthem, the song that plays whenever he enters the building. Any building. The lyrics are also pretty on point, except for the hook, which runs a bit too long for my attention span. This shit is begging for a remix with other hip hop luminaries, not unlike a crackhead that needs a few bucks for their next fix.

This was a pretty good way to cap off Boombox of Lost and Found. Prop Dylan spits four verses with the confidence and swagger of a rapper who is already a bit jaded with how the major labels treat their artists, minus the actual life experience of being dropped from a major. The production is punchy and entertaining, and Prop should convince the listeners that have made it this far that he is worth checking for.

THE LAST WORD: Boombox of Lost and Found starts off strong, falters a bit in the middle, and then picks the fuck up for the last six tracks. Prop Dylan, seemingly forgetting that this is a free album, throws his all into the project, knocking most of these tracks out of the park with a lyrical delivery that quickly makes you forget that he's an artist straight out of Sweden: he's simply a real hip hop fan who has been studying the classics, proving that our chosen genre is truly universal. The production work is also very impressive: while not every song works, the ones that do fire on all cylinders, confronting hip hop fans and demanding to be heard. This album isn't a game-changer, but it has the capability of becoming a sleeper crowd-pleaser for those of you who are interest enough to venture out of your comfort zone. I enjoyed a lot of Boombox of Lost and Found, and I think most of you two will also, but you don't have to take my word for it: download it for yourself and let me know what you think in the comments below. You'll get some good music, and you can't beat the price.

DOWNLOAD: Prop Dylan – Boombox of Lost and Found

Visit Prop Dylan's MySpace
Visit Prop Dylan's Official Site



  1. you should check out more swedish hiphop like Henok Achido, Promoe, Thomas rusiak, Looptroop and Seron

  2. yo max. it will be amazin if you review the coup (steal this album) and aceyalone (all balls dont bounce) coz two of these albums are one of the unpreciatted albums of all time (hiphopjunkie)

  3. cool review. never heard of prop dylan before now, i dig. now that youre sortin your inbox you should review Reks - Along Came The Chosen or Rekless :)

  4. nice rewiev i always loved prop dylan and professor p
    you should seriusly do some more scandinavian hip hop like negash ali, some dj noize or maybe static and nat ill

  5. I was just about to suggest Negash Ali.
    A review of "Asmarino" would be in its place since it's going to be released in the US.

  6. The Beat in Flying Penguins is also heard in RJD2 - Ghostwriter. Maybe that helps