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Eric the Ratt: Expressions from the ‘Dark World’

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Another day, another dollar, young crook. Dark World on my collar.”

These are the introductory lyrics to “Distance,” a track by Eric Yelle, a.k.a Eric the Ratt or eRATT, who is an Amherst native and a sophomore English major at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. Yelle is an alternative hip-hop artist who, along with local hip-hop syndicate “Dark World,” creates fuzzy, left-field music.

Dark World is one of few local groups who fill the hip-hop void in the Pioneer Valley. Most members of the group, including locals DJ Lucas, Lucy, God’s Wisdom, CD Dante and Yelle himself, were born and raised in Amherst; they consider themselves more family than syndicate.

But their music is not traditional hip-hop. This brand of hip-hop builds on the do-it-yourself foundation that the Valley’s hardcore punk scene thrives on. Yelle and his peers play basement shows around the area and have performed at colleges around the Northeast. Dark World recently received a nod from Boston.com as one of Massachusetts’s top 10 music acts to look out for in 2016.

YouTube / Frank Dutan – via Iframely

Together, this close-knit family of sonic innovators has created some of the weirdest hip-hop music the Valley has ever heard. The experience and sound Yelle and his fellow collaborators emit to their fans is emulated in his latest music video “The Fifth,” shot in Amherst. The sound is chaotic yet peaceful, consisting of gruff, processed vocals that overlay cloudy and dense drum beats.

With their sound gaining ground and setting trends, a question arises: Is the hip-hop community ready to welcome this incoming wave of forward-thinking, abstract, aggressive music into their scene?

Ready or not, Dark World will continue to release music, adding to its expansive genre-bending collection.

DSC_0057

Yelle records his music in his dorm room using the built-in microphone on his MacBook, adding effects to his voice using GarageBand. He said he tries to fuse what he learns on campus into his music, but he likes to keep his hip-hop character apart from his student life. He comes from a family of teachers and said that, though he is well aware of what he can accomplish with his English degree, music and the ability to create is something he holds dear to his heart.

Look out for Yelle’s fuzzy, reverb-filled sound at your next basement show.

Upcoming Dark World projects include “Ancient Aliens” by Weird Dane and Yelle’s “Character of Dark World.”

Email Frank Dutan at [email protected], and follow him on Twitter @FrankSDutan.

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Eric the Ratt: Expressions from the ‘Dark World’