Helladope: Take It Back

The Seattle duo's ready to move on from a sound it helped spawn.

Seated in a dark corner booth at Moe Bar, 22-year-old Seattle producer Tay Sean explains the influence legendary Atlanta rappers Goodie Mob and their Organized Noize cohorts had on the sound of his group Helladope’s self-titled debut, out March 12.

“I used to, like, just sample,” says Sean just a couple hours before he steps next door to Neumos, where Helladope will open for Goodie. “But as I got into this album, I began to get more into Organized Noize. So in a way I felt there was some kind of synchronicity between me hearing that and being in the midst of this kind of off-the-wall shit that I’m going for.”

Sean may go off-the-wall with his beats like Organized Noize, but he maintains their accessibility in his partnership with 29-year-old lyricist Jerm. You can dance to the plodding, interstellar stoner funk of “This Is My Planet” or the ebullient, sparkling flow of “Cosmic Voyage” while reveling in the space-geek effects. Although the intricacies of the production sometimes threaten to overtake the vocals, Jerm keeps his cool, synching up his smoke-scarred delivery—usually via one of two modes, fully-auto or slo-mo—with whatever wicked brew Sean has concocted.

But after this record, Sean and Jerm are more or less abandoning the sound they’ve spearheaded, one as influenced by dance music as by Southern hip-hop. Groups such as THEESatisfaction (which appears on two of the album’s tracks) and Mad Rad have charted a somewhat similar course. But the guys have other things on their minds beside the cosmos.

“I definitely wanna do other shit,” says Jerm. “We got a pretty solid understanding and foundation about where we wanna go and what we both have to offer.”

“I didn’t learn how to play piano before, like, two years ago,” adds Sean. “As I get better at that, and as I get better at other instruments…it’s gonna move. It’s not gonna stay in the same place.”