By ROB DUGUAY Collaborations in music are always interesting, but how can they be taken to the next level? How about when a couple bandmates, who each have their own solo projects and have guested on each other's tracks, join up to create a whole new
Collaborations in music are always interesting, but how can they be taken to the next level?
How about when a couple bandmates, who each have their own solo projects and have guested on each other’s tracks, join up to create a whole new entity? It’s not quite a side project, but can it be referred to as a “sub-collab”?
These are the questions that came to mind when I dived into “Ronald Raygun,” the album from the duo of the same name consisting of Coventry’s Dan Pomfret and West Warwick’s Mike Jencks. Pomfret also puts out music under his own name, while Jencks releases music under the name Toadstool. Together, they’re also part of the Providence hip-hop band Toad & The Stooligans.
The album was released on Feb. 12, and ever since it came out it has created a local buzz. If you don’t believe me, I’ll show you the numerous emails and messages of folks telling me to write about this release when I was already planning on doing it weeks ago.
The “Ronald Raygun” album cover is as cool as the music, with the drawing of a ray gun looking like something straight out of Spongebob Squarepants courtesy of the Edinburgh, Scotland-based artist Dalex Smith. Pomfret and Jencks decided to take on this endeavor due to a longtime friendship and as a way of pushing each other to be their artistic best.
“Mike and I have been working together since we met like seven or eight years ago,” Pomfret says of the creative partnership. “We’ve always been competitive with each other, and at some point Mike took things to a completely different level by teaching himself to make beats. He sent over a folder of amazing beats and was like, ‘Wanna do a project? I just need bars.’ And I was obviously in because he’d done all the heavy lifting already. We just rhymed about whatever we wanted, a lot of silly stuff and some real. That’s who we are, a lot of silly, a lot of real, never too serious.”
He adds: “I could say we wanted to make a mixtape people would still blast years later, but the truth is we were just having fun and goofing around. We rapped about dumb stuff like ‘Anchorman,’ ‘The Shining,’ Ridley Scott and I guess a lot of movies we like. It was fun to promote this, too. I’ve never done so much video editing with stock footage to make up teaser videos, but people seem to respond well to it. We’re really proud of this project despite its whimsical nature. My favorite thing is when someone messages me because they just figured out a joke or a line from a verse.”
The 14-track album has a mix of ’90s-style heavy beat production and jazzy, psychedelic, soulful and funky samples. “Caviar,” “Ridley Scott,” “Godly,” “Do It Again” and “Tell Me” highlight a stellar record that pleases the ears in numerous ways. With this blissful barrage, the arrangements aren’t as complex as they seem.
“This project was definitely inspired by simplicity,” Jencks says about the songwriting and sound quality. “Production-wise, I really wanted to keep everything relatively simple and really focus on the actual bars we spit. It was really cool to be able to tell Dan where he needs to be and just let him go off. I think we’re always trying to best one another, but we know when to put that ego aside to make some dope music.”
To check out one of the best albums to come out of the Ocean State so far this year, you can give “Ronald Raygun” a stream on Spotify, Apple Music, iTunes, Amazon Music and Deezer. You can also purchase the album through most of those platforms as well.
This is the kind of music for both the hip-hop purist and the kid who wants to listen to something new. It’s also straight out of your backyard. Turn it up once you press play to get immersed in the inventive beats and rhymes.