The High Decibels
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The High Decibels


Band Hip Hop Rock


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This band has not uploaded any videos



""Rock Hop Blues""

The live band is no longer a total hip-hop shocker, thanks mostly to the Roots, but few let 'er rip in the way of this Oakland, Calif., act. Old-school rap vocal style gets mashed with a decidedly fresh rap idea: scalding rock guitar. The High Decibels call it "rock hop blues," and we're buying it. -

""A Fresh, Inspiring Record""

“A talented combination of two emcees and a multi-instrumentalist producer, this trio is hardly like anything you have heard before. Akin to Nas's ‘Bridging the Gap’ off Street's Disciple, the High Decibels blend the blues with hip-hop on their self-titled debut to create a fresh, inspiring record. ” - OkayPlayer

""The Blues Aren't Dead, and Neither is Hip Hop""

“Duke Johnson and his hypeman, Chief, are taking the blues back from a long list of white guys who started hijacking it in the '60s ... The High Decibels show that the blues aren't dead, and neither is hip-hop.”

- Urb

""A Sound That's Unlike Any Other""

“Slam poet Duke Johnson and hypeman Chief combine the textbook grooves of hip-hop, blues rock, and country punk for a sound that's unlike any other in this region. The duo, which records with a full live band, sounds like Kid Rock reimagined as backpacker rap, and its self-titled debut leaves the fun in funky.” - SF Weekly

""The Second Coming of Schoolyard Funk""

“Gliding from hip-hop and rock to blues with frightening ease is the second coming of schoolyard funk in the form of Oakland trio High Decibels. Composed of childhood friends Chief and Duke Johnson, who freestyled at an early age, they evoke the 80’s sounds of Beastie Boys but with style and frightening chemistry.” - Pensatos


“Classic old school hip hop from Oakland. Reminds us of old Run DMC and Beastie Boys, even a little bit of De La Soul - back in the days when people were combining huge rock riffs with tradeoff raps and high energy good time vibes. Awesome.” - Left Hip Magazine


"The High Decibels" - Full Length Album



8 weeks in the top ten of the CMJ Hip Hop Chart!

With the solid support of college radio and hip hop/alternative press, the High Decibels have gained a reputation as one of the freshest and most innovative new hip hop groups. Featuring two MCs and a crackerjack live band, the group slides easily between classic rap and rock styles, bringing a brash, adventurous spirit back to a genre that sorely lacks it.

Frontman Duke Johnson, an East Oakland native, started freestyling at the age of 12 in the schoolyard with some friends, including his current HD partner, hypeman Chief. His first live performance was at a talent show at a local high school. Mid-performance, his backing CD started skipping, and the audience booed him offstage.

Discouraged from performing rap, Duke decided to try poetry and spoken word. Equipped with plenty of subject matter from his experiences living in Oakland, he gathered his confidence and entered a few slam events. Transfixing audiences with real life depictions of struggles and shootings -- one he witnessed at the age of 8 -- Duke soon became a top ranked slam poet in the Bay Area.

It was at a slam event in Berkeley where Duke caught the interest of rock/funk producer and guitarist KC Booker, who was looking to collaborate with some hip hop artists. Duke agreed to give rap one more try, and when Booker and Johnson recorded their first tracks -- a potent mix of authentic hip hop and hard, funky blues -- the chemistry was undeniable.

Bringing Duke’s childhood buddy Chief into the mix as a hypeman was the final essential ingredient. Coupled with a live band and Chief's raw, kinetic energy onstage, the High Decibels shows proved to be high-energy, crowd-stirring affairs. Their genre-crossing musical style and a solid debut album has helped them earn outstanding critical reviews and a top 5 position on CMJ's Hip Hop Chart. The group's song "That Dude" was featured in a Budweiser commercial for the 2009 Superbowl.