Rapper TriState of Gold Chain Music and Producer Oh No of Stones Throw Records collaborate for 3 Dimensional Prescriptions, a project that oozes the sound and vivacity what might be best described as authentic, grown man rap. The Los Angeles Duo have a largely seamless cohabitation, never overstaying their welcome across 14 tracks, but the album does little more than give TriState a platform for his lumbering wordplay that never really sees the conceptual basis for the album to fruition. At first glance “lumbering” might seem like a misnomer; by no means is TriState incapable with his flows, rather his tone and cadences all suggest a larger, gangly presence throughout his verses. That said this is offset by his ability to string together bars that seem almost unfitting for such a vocally heavy persona.
3DRx, as TriState affectionately calls it on Twitter, begins with a intro that supposedly lays out the project’s thematic choice, implementing what sounds like vocal samples of pharmaceutical officials and newscasters touting the efficacy of 3D printed drug technology, laid on top of a chilled out, futuristic beat. A female voice guides the listener towards “further details” regarding 3D prescriptions, which cuts away to the distorted aforementioned claims of the potential for 3D drugs. The interplay between technology and medicine is likely used to highlight impending changes that could be cause for moral deliberations, similar to the ethics debate regarding stem cell treatments. Again these voices cut away to a frantic sounding female against a cacophonous synth riff saying, “Those two medications don’t mix! He has to decide if he wants to be alive or be crazy!”
The attempt to invoke the social gravitas of the subject never really takes off, with the very next words on the subsequent track being, “Yeah, Gold Chain,” in reference to TriState’s record label. Actually, any references to the titular concept are sparse, with lyrics like “pharmaceutical homeopathic” on “Imhotep,” and even those are references to the medicinal nature of TriState’s ability to serve the public, whether he means through illegal methods or more probably by his medicinal music.
Thematic foundation aside, Oh No provides a wealth of quality production for TriState and guests to play with, composing tracks suitable for the dark, brooding and wintry subject matter. On “Move Script” the continual chime of a bell provides an impending feeling, similar to visuals of a dealer awaiting his next move, only to cut away to a concerned horn sample that could provide the soundtrack to an active getaway. Foreboding cuts like “Move Script,” “Custom,” “Wind Chime Wizardry,” and “Spaceship,” are well spaced, allowing for alternatively smoother and less frenetic tracks for TriState to glide across.
On “Networth,” a stripped back instrumental featuring hi-hats, cuts away to a sample of The Sylvers “I’ll Never Let You Go.” The 3d imagery does return in the lyrics “the vice seem epic, 3d sword is geometric, cut like they rolling the credits” and the hi-hats coupled with the bongos give an eclectic feel. Scratches at the end are a welcome surprise, seemingly a dying art in commercial records. Then, as the beat fades listeners get a taste of a production staple from Oh No and his big brother Madlib, a television sample of the sitcom Martin, which, while not exactly fitting with the overarching idea of the album is a defining moment in the track list.
The Martin sample is fitting, however, regarding the following track “G.T.D.” Featuring the soft soul vocals of Xiaomara, this track is easily the most vulnerable as TriState discusses his generic fiending for the booty or his ability to “criss cross to the crib and make the coochie jump.” Again, the main takeaway from TriState’s performance is his natural aptitude for description and alliteration, reciting, “Black Buddah belly boy, African booty scratched, the doobie wrapped, with a half of an ounce of the Scooby Snacks” or an “Ebony lady Eloise, fell victim to my clever steez, overseas shredding cheddar cheese.” TriState is well aware of his ability to captivate as he exploits his dictionary for continued success across the project. Once again, Oh No gives listeners another T.V. sample, again from Martin, explaining the title’s meaning which is nothing more than “Get the drawers!”
The remainder of the project finds this strange spot between forgettable and remarkable, with lyrics on like “Sweet Mississippi marmalade, high Prada mama, coke bottle model shape, fashion wonderama, red bottom applebum, summer Moscato, pineapple rumwinter, plum honey mulatto,” from “Tears On My Nautica”. Coupled with Oh No’s up-tempo jazz lounge-esque production, the duo and Washeyi Chior recall TriState’s adulterous love affair which provides for the most focused verses on a projected laden with guns, drugs and violence. On the other hand, struggle bars on “Spaceship” about the plight of the underground rapper are nothing new, though Oh No’s wiry synthetic construction stands out as one of the more unique cuts. Lastly, “Write Wrongs” featuring Oh No’s Gangrene partner in crime The Alchemist would have made for an appropriate outro, with a jazz noir composition allowing for a self-reflective ending to a thematic journey that never took off.
As their first outing, 3 Dimensional Prescriptions occupies a weird space between being able to be a wholly cohesive collaboration while never living up to the titular underpinnings. Sure, listeners could toy with the idea of hip-hop and lyricism being the drug, TriState and Oh No the suppliers and the audience the fiends, though that’s hardly uncommon in an era dominated by rappers claiming status as the plug. Instead, focusing on TriState’s capable flow, Oh No’s crisp and intentional production and features that never abrogate the spotlight create a pleasant listen even if the 3DRx theme falls flat on its face.