09/04/2013 Boise Weekly, Album review , 'Oso Negro Breaks on Through'

The Doze Project gives The Doors a hip-hop makeover-

Mixing rock and hip-hop is nothing new. Run-DMC did it with its 1985 debut Kings of Rock. The following year, the pioneering group scored a pop hit with a cover of Aerosmith's "Walk This Way," which helped bring hip-hop into the mainstream.

Ontario, Ore.-based rapper Oso Negro makes no such grand claims for The Doze Project EP, which he released online Aug. 8. Instead, his Bandcamp page describes the EP--a seven-track collection that combines his original lyrics with samples from songs by the Doors--as "lo fi fun with high flying concepts and delivery."

A "huge Doors head" when he was younger, Oso Negro approached Doze--a DJ based in Sioux Falls, S.D.--after hearing some song mash-ups that he'd created. The rapper proposed that Doze make a series of beats using only Doors songs, "[excluding] songs already sampled regularly in the past ('L.A. Woman,' 'The End,' '5 to 1,' 'Riders on the Storm,' etc.)."

The DJ rose to the challenge, crafting seven beats sampled mainly from lesser-known Doors songs such as "Wild Child" and "Yes, the River Knows." While the EP's final track, "Icy Refreshers," samples from the band's famous cover of Brecht-Weill's "Alabama Song," only astute listeners will recognize the bits taken from it.

According to The Doze Project's Bandcamp notes, Oso Negro sought to "[integrate] his world view with flashes of the music he relied on so heavily as a youth, while working to respect the original context in which The Doors were created and existed."

The EP's lyrics reflect the rapper's desire to blend his own point of view with the songs' original meanings. For example, "Icy Refresher's" critique of people getting drunk to forget their troubles ("Imbibed for a respite from pressures / Usually self-imposed, but whatever") echoes "Alabama Song's" lament for more whiskey bars and little girls. "U.S. 2.0" decries drone warfare and domestic surveillance over a sample from the anti-Vietnam song "The Unknown Soldier."

"I see you seeing the scene in a singular light," Oso Negro raps on "Vilde Khaye," "but gotta surpass, the grass is greener, beat that chest and keep on fightin'."

If Jim Morrison had heard this, he might have told the rapper, "Break on through to the other side."