Haj of Dumhi has been 'making beats' since 2003. During this time, he has put together some of the most interesting albums in hiphop. His formula? Sample heavy beats, great up and coming emcees, and concept/theme-laden cohesive projects.'Yoga at Home', for instance is tied together by samples of a yoga guru who guides the listener from song to song. 2010's 'The Jungle' adapts ethiopian jazz samples as a backdrop for Philly's finest emcees to catapult lyrics from. Haj has been featured in Philadelphia's "City Paper", has performed at the 2010 "Beats and Rhymes" showcase in Philly, and has been featured on several local radio shows, web sites, and mix tapes.
Recently, Haj began working to bring Dumhi's music to the stage. To do this, he reconstructed his beats so they could be performed live using Ableton Live/Serato. He also recruited Jason Lovullo (Bass), Marco Hill (Guitar) and Eric Hahn (Tenor Sax) to accompany him. Over the last year, the guys have been performing at various clubs, often with Philly emcee Side Effect holding down hosting and emceeing duty. They also have been joined frequently by Philly stalwards and frequent Dumhi collaborators, Reef the Lost Cauze and Ethel Cee. The live "experiment" has thus far been very successful winning Dumhi many new fans.
The crew now is ready to branch out and take their sound to a new audience.
Please check the video section of this EPK for clips of Dumhi with Side Effect, Ethel Cee, Reef the Lost Cauze, Jake Lefco and more.
Haj of Dumhi - Turntables, Ableton Live, APC40
Side Effect - Vocals
Jason Lovullo - Bass
Eric Hahn - Tenor Sax
Marco Hill - Guitar
2011 The Whole World's Watching
2010 The Jungle
2008 Yoga at Home
All streaming via http://dumhi.bandcamp.com/
South Philly hip-hop producer Haj reinvents the frontman.
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People are so entrenched with the idea of a frontman being a vocalist." That's why Haji Rana Pin...People are so entrenched with the idea of a frontman being a vocalist."
That's why Haji Rana Pinya has such a tough time explaining his Philadelphia hip-hop project to the casual listener.
Haj is the producer and beatmaker of Dumhi. Effectively, though, he is Dumhi, since the MCs who rhyme on his records — luminaries of the underground like Reef the Lost Cauze, Che Grand and Ethel Cee — all have their own, established solo pursuits. They function as guest collaborators rather than full-fledged members. Haj is the only constant.
This inverted model started out unassumingly. "Dumhi" was simply the brand name for Haj's informal production work with friends. It's since grown into a functioning group that self-released its latest — The Jungle, an LP based on Ethiopian jazz samples — this week. The music comes off very much like DJ Muggs' Soul Assassins projects of the late '90s: Many MCs, one production voice, presented compilation-style. But Haj bristles at the word compilation.
"All the beats are me, and it's no different than Nas with 10 different producers on Illmatic," he says. "Except it's the exact opposite."
Spinning his beats into album-length creative statements is important to Haj, since music is an alternative to his more clinical, business-oriented day job. "I'm an accountant," he laughs. "It's one of the least creative fields you can get into."
He first sought counterbalance by picking up guitar in 2001, when he was 25. Haj proved a quick learner, and moved on to other instruments, to recording and ultimately to beatmaking. By the mid-aughts, he was stitching together backing tracks in marathon recording sessions at his South Philly home, working with budding rappers he connected with on Okayplayer.com.
His first mixtape, made with Flud, Shameless Plug and DC native Mash Comp, sounded like naturals at work, but "It was very much thrown together," Haj says. "And we said, you know, not for nothing, if we focused, we could probably do something better."
With 2008, came Haj and Dumhi Present Yoga at Home, an EP where a chipper instructor from a 1970s yoga record is sampled into acting as the host of a beaty, bouncy romp featuring Reef, Sadat X and many others. Flowers followed the next year, a melancholic mining of '70s folk and soul music that underscored Haj's recent breakup. And though Indian Summer, released that fall, had less of an explicit theme, it was the first release credited to Dumhi outright. Some of Haj's early MC collaborators had moved away, and new names had come on board. Haj was firmly situated in the driver's seat.
"I like to think of these projects as collages," he says.
Last November, a friend named Dave Black visited Haj's house near Fourth and Ritner with a playlist full of Ethiopian jazz. He was floored. "I'm sitting there like oh man, I'm chopping this up right now, in my head," he recalls. The Jungle began taking shape.
Many past collaborators were back in Philly for the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays, so it was a opportune time to return to the whirlwind recording of the early days. Haj sat at home, feverishly making beats out of Black's borrowed LPs, while rappers popped in and out to record verses.
Once the songs were laid out in skeleton form, Haj looked for a way to tie them together. He came across an old documentary/dramatization video on Megawords' YouTube channel called The Jungle — it depicted Philadelphia gang life from the 1960s. He sampled this to make transitional tracks, along with sound snippets from nature videos, dialogue from Lost, and other bits of ephemera forming an LP that could be read as commentary on urban living, commentary on the rap game, or just 35 minutes of tight, seamless hip-hop.
"I really like that idea of creating 40 minutes or so that is theme-based," Haj says. But he also likes giving listeners something fresh, hence his gravitation toward unusual source material.
"I don't want to go out and sample a million karate movies," he explains." I'm a huge Wu-Tang fan, but I felt like it's already been done. Prince Paul, with A Prince Among Thieves, he laid out this whole storyline. I think that was awesome. I think that, for me, it was a little more literal than I want to do."
Haj prefers not to be heavy-handed. Some tracks on The Jungle step into more direct social commentary — the eerie keyboard melody and fierce bounce of "Lions" has Reef navigating SEPTA to a corner store, where the clerk sits behind a bulletproof glass breaking up weed. Others, like the excellent single "Dumhi Cannons," are straight party jams where MCs Random and Ethel Cee riff on their prowess as scratchy horns rise and fall, and funky guitar licks jam.
Haj likes to keep things connected, but loose. The Jungle is typical in having a theme didn't coalesce until well after the vocals were tracked. In the future, he hopes to delve more into collaborating on the lyrical content. But for now, his aim is directing the front-to-back sonic scope of Dumhi's projects.
Most aspiring beatmakers, he explains, have a late-'90s mentality: cooking up thousands of disconnected loops and feverishly burning them to CD, passing them out with hopes of landing a high-profile slot on the next Ghostface record, or something. Haj, again, works in opposites; if he has the beats now to make a full record, why wait?
"I'm not a singer, I'm not a rapper, but it's worked out to the best of both worlds for me," Haj says. "I get to work with a whole bunch of people, and I get to constantly move forward and evolve."
The Jungle” along with the production and emcee features that can be found on this album is underground Hip Hop at it’s finest."
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Better known as Haj, the man behind Dumhi and producer behind albums such as “Indian Summer” and “Fl...Better known as Haj, the man behind Dumhi and producer behind albums such as “Indian Summer” and “Flowers”, has just released one of the year’s best this past Tuesday with “The Jungle”, and not many people seem to know about it. As with past releases from the Illadelph native, Dumhi’s albums have told a story, “The Jungle” is no different. Boasting production that comes off like Prince Paul on steroids, but void of all the sporadic quirkiness, Dumhi has laced “The Jungle” with hard, rolling drum patterns, clever samples, a few instrumental cuts (“Walk The Streets” and “The Jungle”, the later of which, sounds like it could have been included on DJ Shadow’s seminal LP, “Entrouducing”) and skits that take each track on the album to a poignant close and detail inner-city life in Philadelphia. However, on this occasion, Dumhi has brought along his Philly fam for the ride (Reef, Ethel Cee, Random, etc.) and the Lessondary family states it’s case on “The Jungle” as well, with notable appearances from Elucid, Jermiside and Che Grand. At only 11 tracks deep, “The Jungle” doesn’t hold much margin for error. Yet, on the same token, it’s void of all the wastage that’s normally inclusive on an 18-track LP.
Featuring one of the most commanding deliveries and voices in underground Hip Hop, the album’s opener (minus the intro “Only The Strong Survive”) “No Redemption” finds Lessondary-affiliate, Elucid paying homage to O.C.’s “Time’s Up” with the opening lines: “You lack the mineral(s) and vitamin(s)..”. Dumhi’s production tactics are defined on “No Redemption”, quick hitting drum kicks that won’t necessarily rattle your trunk, but still pack enough bottom to be heard around the block, find themselves tucked away below a horn riff that could just as easily find a home amongst earlier Native Tongue workings from the likes of Black Sheep or the Jungle Brothers. The album’s first leak/single from “The Jungle”, the Reef The Lost Cauze-led “Philly Cousins” and the Random, Ethel Cee-featured “Dumhi Cannons” are quietly making their respective “rounds” on the internet. While the prior, “Philly Cousins”, follows Dumhi’s tried and proven formula of rolling drum kicks and semi-distorted bass, the later “Dumhi Cannons” is a nice variance of tempos for the album without salvaging or varying from “The Jungle’s” somewhat serious, battle rap theme. Don’t get it twisted, Random and Ethel Cee more than carry their weight on “Dumhi Cannons”, it’s just that this track really (for lack of better wording) stands out amongst the remainder of the album. Not “lighthearted” in the least, but “..Cannons” is on the opposite end of the spectrum when compared to the “take no prisoners” attitude displayed by Reef on “May Get Murdered” (yet another stand-out cut from the album). All you Primo heads out there will instantly recognize the sample that supplies the backbone for “The Knife” (f. Reef and Burke The Jurke), but I like how Dumhi has flipped it in this instant, making the sample barely recognizable.
“The Jungle” along with the production and emcee features that can be found on this album is underground Hip Hop at it’s finest. It’s especially sweet, when this type of album emerges from my home state. Yet, even if I was from Alaska, “The Jungle” would still be on repeat in my headphones. Fast-forward five years from now, “The Jungle” won’t astound anyone with units moved, but it will be respected in a manner that us old-headz hold in high regard, albums such as “Contemporary Jeep Music”, “A Wolf In Sheep’s Clothing”, “Da Dirty 30? seem to come to mind.
Apollo Brown held it down for Detroit with “The Reset” (another producer themed album) and just as effectively, Dumhi has duplicated those same glaring results with “The Jungle”. However, in this instance, Dumhi has blessed Philly with it’s own well-deserved shine. Taking it back to early ’60s gang life in Philly, Dumhi has proved that in the “city of brotherly love”, the more things change, the more they stay the same. Word to Schooly D! Put up your 10 bones, cop this ‘ish and “Thank Me Later”, Dumhi is Dum-Good….
Phrequency on Indian Summer
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Phrequency writer James A. Johnson hits us with his Top 5 local releases of the year. 4. Dumhi ...Phrequency writer James A. Johnson hits us with his Top 5 local releases of the year.
4. Dumhi – Indian Summer
Local producer Haj of Dumhi has been steadily crafting an incredible body of work, and while past efforts have been marvelous in terms of production but have left something to be desired in terms of vocals, this latest Dumhi release is finally able to create a cohesive whole. Employing the talents of Tanya Morgan’s Donwill, Red Giants member, Jermiside and MAGr’s Al Mighty, along with some of Haj’s best work, Indian Summer probably the most impressive Dumhi album so far. It’s also available for free on Dumhi’s website, so check it out already!
Stand Out Tracks: "Black Roses", "Indian Reign", "Drive By Graffiti".
Flowers Review- Potholesinmyblog.com
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After a few years working with Dumhi, the Okayplayer-formed hip-hop group, producer Haji Rana Pinya ...After a few years working with Dumhi, the Okayplayer-formed hip-hop group, producer Haji Rana Pinya steps out to release the powerful 30-minute Flowers EP. Flowers works on many levels. It evokes a somewhat soulful vibe, yet cannot be classified as a soul record. There is certainly a strong presence of more left-field hip-hop production, yet it would not be classified as a left-field hip-hop record either. Part of the appeal of Flowers is that stylistically it fuses so many influences, which blend together with a pleasant ease, providing an overall unique, fresh approach. (cont)
RapReviews adds Squeeze to 'year end' list
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The Year 2008 in Review Author: Matt Jost One year into the new administration, J-Live predicte...The Year 2008 in Review
Author: Matt Jost
One year into the new administration, J-Live predicted, "By the time Bush is done, you won't know what time it is." Well, J-Live, it's 2009, Bush is done in more ways than one, and his successor isn't probably quite as you would've imagined him back in 2002. Nevertheless, you certainly were right to project that the world would look different once these people were allowed to force their ideas upon it. But going back to Satisfied? I also suspect that you're a little bit sceptical about Obamania. Just like we can't blame Bush for everything bad that happened in the last eight years, Obama isn't going to make everything right, especially with the current economic outlook.
Rap music as usual had a lot of things to say in 2008, it even managed to stretch its vocal cords with a little helper called Auto-Tune, but it wasn't quite the strong voice it could be (and once was). Rap may have again become a force less to be reckoned with, but that didn't prevent it from being highly relevant to individuals in very different ways. While the album's fate is uncertain and the ringtone business isn't exactly what it was cranked up to be, the song remains the format that is able to grab us instantly and at the same time allows us to develop a long-term relationship with it. RapReviews readers may remember this is the place where yours truly has the staff compile exceptional indie songs that they encountered over the year while covering material for the site. It is where we collectively remember how vital hip-hop still is. With this I give you...
The 2008 Virtual RapReviews.com Year End Compilation
"Looongawaited" - Invincible - from "Shapeshifters"
"Squeeze" - Dumhi & Haj f. Reef the Lost Cauze - from "Yoga at Home Volume 1"
"Street Cred Need Me" - Z-Man - from "Machete Vox Presents Sneak Preview"
"Sniper Challengers" - 9th Prince f. Islord - from "Prince of New York"
"Like This" - D-Sisive - from "Like This (Plus Three)"
"Jerk Chicken" - Kenny Segal f. Dr. Ooop - from "Ken Can Cook"
"The Club" - Moochy C f. Slug - from "I Know What I'm Worth"
"Ragtime Gal" - Animal Farm - from "The Unknown"
"Lobby Room" - Kalri$$ian - from "Bomb Hip-Hop Compilation, Vol. 2"
"Card in Sleeves" - Gripp - from "As Knowledge Kills Beauty"
"Hip Hop Classic" - Grip Grand - from "Brokelore"
"30 More Years" - Timid - from "No Time for the Jibba Jabba"
Originally posted: January 27, 2009
Okayplayer.com review Yoga at Home
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For the past five years, every metropolis across America has seen an influx in two things: dogs that...For the past five years, every metropolis across America has seen an influx in two things: dogs that fit in purses, and yoga. The latter has finally made its way to hip-hop, pouring from the vessels of Dumhi and producer Haj i Rana Pinya, also known as Haj, on their latest collaborative effort, Yoga At Home, Vol. 1.
Yoga and hip-hop? Does it work? Of course it does, because the album isn’t necessarily about yoga at all. Instead, Dumhi and Haj use yoga as the metaphor, that music can be the meditative vehicle used to achieve Zen consciousness. Or something like that. Either way, its dope sounds. There’s even a yogi in between songs, to guide us and keep us all on our “path.”
Rap veteran, Sadat X is on track one, “The Yoga At Home Theme Song,” a driving drum beat with an ethereal chant lingering in the background, to make the ganja-gloating song smooth and enchanting.
The second song, “Sun Exercises,” featuring another top-notch emcee, Che Grand, is described best at the beginning of the song, where someone says in an ad-lib, “This got that ol’ smoky jazz bar feel to it.” Either that, or it’s a perfect song for a barbecue. Grand flows impeccably over the track, supported by a catchy sing-songy hook, making the song infectious.
The highlight comes on the last track (with vocals), “Squeeze,” featuring Reef The Lost Cauze . This song is definitely different than the rest, in the sense that it’s the most rugged, lyrically. Reef, delivers a gut-wrenching performance, reciting lyrics about an absent father, a struggling career, and all around inner turmoil. The beat suits him perfectly, void of all light sounds, and full of clangs and clashes.
From here the album repeats itself, sans vocals, and I am not mad about it. All of the music is so good, that it’s definitely palatable without the emcees, though proven to be incredible with them.
All and all, Yoga At Home, Vol. 1 is successful in bridging yoga and hip-hop, without ever mentioning “downward dog,” or “tree poses.” And for that, I tip my hat to Dumhi and Haj. My only complaint is that I wish there were more than seven songs. But I guess seven is a good number. Om.
- Jason Reynolds
Interview with Rappersiknow.com
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Haji Rana Pinya is known to some simply as Haj, and he is one part of the hip-hop collective known a...Haji Rana Pinya is known to some simply as Haj, and he is one part of the hip-hop collective known as Dumhi. Based out of Philadelphia, he has managed to create some incredible music with his group, who take on the traditions of the music and take it on a green, smoke-filled adventure. Haj is also branching out with a number of other projects, including the recent Fermented Spirits project with MicheleQJ, Demystification, and a great album he released under his own name, Yoga At Home Vol. 1 which features Sadat X, Von Pea, Che Grand, and Reef The Lost Cause. In a short time he has been able to execute these songs while slowly gaining a faithful audience, and as he looks towards doing more projects with Dumhi and other artists, it’s only a matter of time before we see Haj doing things on an international level. Here is my interview with him, done on a binary level somewhere in cyberspace:
The Run-Off Groove: What are you listening to right now on your iPod or listening device of choice?
Haj: I just left Best Buy actually. I copped Heltah Skeltah and Jake One. Looking forward to hearing both. I’ve mostly been listening to the new Oasis record recently. Also a bunch of new Reef the Lost Cauze material.
Let’s go back a bit. How did you get started in production?
In about 2000 I bought an acoustic guitar. I was always very much into music but I guess I was into beer, girls, and weed a bit more. So I breezed through high school, then shot through college… then joined the world of Corp America and then realized that I was completely miserable and needed something more in my life. As soon as I could play two chords on that guitar I started writing my own songs and as soon as that happened, I knew I needed drums. A cheap drum machine was next and then some software and then so on and so forth. Buying that acoustic (guitar) was the best decision I have ever made with my life.
Was there one particular artist that made you say “I want to be able to do what they’re doing”?
No, not (just) one. I have always been amazed by the connection between musician and instrument. The way a musician can channel emotions through his instrument and transmit those emotions to a listener: I think it is one of the few true forms of magic that exists in our world. I want to be able to do that. Of course, the music I have released isn’t exactly along those lines (ha ha). But that is prolly what initially drew me to music. As far as the sample based music: I would say I am mostly inspired by Prince Paul, MF DOOM, Madlib, RZA… it would be a long list.
As with anything hip-hop related, it has to be asked: did you have aspirations to become a rapper?
(Laughter) Nah, I know my limits. Aside from a few drunken freestyle sessions… nah. Rappers do have all the fun though.
What lead to the creation of Dumhi?
When I first started making beats I was working with a DJ friend of mine named Roger Riddle. We started calling the beats we were making around that time “Pickled Beats”. As I started to build up a stash of my own beats, I knew I needed some kind of moniker or brand name or something to put out a project under. Dumhi seemed as good of a name as any.
People might ask the guys in Tanya Morgan “who is Tanya?” In your case, what exactly is a “Dumhi”?
Depends on who you ask I guess. At its most simple form, Dumhi is a state of mind. Smoke and listen to (or better yet make) some music. I wanted to have everyone who was interested involved in my early projects. In fact 2005’s Vote Dumhi was initially going to be a compilation of various MC’s laying vocals on my beats. The first two MC’s who came over to record wound up staying all weekend and recording over nearly half of the project. Two more projects would also be put together with those same MC’s doing the bulk of the rhyming. So to many people, ShamelessPlug, MashComp, and myself are Dumhi. To me.. everyone who has ever contributed to a Dumhi project (from the creation to the enjoyment) is Dumhi.
I hope that doesn’t sound coy.
Haj uses a combination of the APC40, Ableton Live software and Serato to recreate the beats from his various album projects. Eric Marco, and Jason, sax, guitar and bass respectively, replace many components of the album version of the beats to create a very different styled Dj performance.
Side Effect acts as host and main emcee.
An example of a recent set:
Walk the Streets/ Intro -Side Effect
The Demo -Side Effect
Double Your Money -Side Effect
News and Entertainment- Instrumental
Shade- Ethel Cee
Make a Move- Ethel Cee
Yao Ming- Instrumental
Lions -Reef the Lost Cauze
Thought Control -Reef the Lost Cauze
Alive aka Want to Be -Side Effect