DSM Van Buren


From the Pharcyde to A Tribe Called Quest, modern hip-hop collectives have been some of the most enigmatic forces in music. They both shape and are shaped by the culture, leading the people because they are the people. Dynamic and overzealous, Van Buren Records singlehandedly reformatted the system.

Comprised of 13 members, Van Buren Records are not reliant on gimmicks; they have a scathing grit that’s spat through raw and unembellished rap. Representing the city of Brockton, New England’s sole black-majority city, they’re aggressive not just because of their desire to be seen but to put a spotlight on a severely overlooked city.

With an air of both G-Unit and The Underachievers, we could pick apart the science behind their cipher etiquette, but where their true magic lies in the sense of home they’ve built within their brotherhood. Behind their bite, they’re just a regular group of friends who clown on each other and uplift each other in the same breath. With an infectious camaraderie, Van Buren Records respects each other as artists, giving each track their all while making sure there’s adequate room for the next man.

With the release of their latest project, DSM, Van Buren Records is demanding their due respect with a vengeance. There’s no diluting, no cheesy, repetitive hook to decay your brain into thinking it’s consumable. It’s the heart of true hip-hop, served on a silver platter. We had the pleasure of sitting down with the collective to talk about the project, the magic behind rap groups, and why Brockton should be the next major market city.

The title of their new album, DSM, which stands for “Down Street Market,” is directly inspired by a studio in Brockton where the group has recorded a significant amount of material since their inception, as well as a recent trip to Los Angeles upon which they visited the high-end store of the same name, purchasing a set of new threads to wear to a posh event hosted by Brent Faiyaz, a long-time supporter of the group. This dichotomy of the homegrown studio and the lavish store they were now shopping in sharing the same name marked an appropriate time-stamp for VBto reflect on the journey that brought them the esteemed success they’ve achieved so far in their career

Adding to VB’s lively dynamic, DSM includes the group’s first feature, Conway’s The Machine, on the neck-snapping track “The Source.” Songs like “How to Kill a Narcissist” showcase VB’s appreciation for the modern flair of their genre contemporaries, while their previously released cipher-style single “Foul” and “Get Money”—a tribute to the iconic bad boy cut—highlight VB’s deep-rooted appreciation for classic hip-hop. DSM is the result of years of collaborative effort and individual growth, making for Van Buren Records’strongestand most fully realized albums to date

At 16-tracks in length with a runtime of 53-minutes, there is more than enough time for listeners to figure out what everyone individually brings to the table. This album is one big potluck because they are all feasting and playing their parts. Usually, with hip-hop groups, one member stands out from the rest. That pseudo-leader is usually so noticeably better that he makes the rest of the team look like supporting characters. That’s not the case for VB. Each is skillfully talented, something you can’t say for every rap group.

The best thing about “DSM” is that each member brings their own skills and distinctive sounds that complement the group. The cohesiveness on display results from years of collaborative effort and individual growth. Much of the album plays to each member’s strengths perfectly. Adding to VB’s lively dynamic, “DSM” includes the group’s first feature, from Conway’s The Machine on“The Source.” This menacing track will make you think twice about ever-challenging VB to lyrical warfare. The collective pull no punches on a tracklist that is just as polished as it is understated.

When your group is composed of lifelong friends, there is a high level of chemistry that other groups aspire to reach. In its entirety, “DSM” very much feels like a group of individuals with their own distinctive voices and thoughts that are phenomenal alone and even better together. Listening to this album, it feels like they have an unbreakable bond, and hopefully, they don’t stop putting out cohesive projects like this one.

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