Live in San Francisco, Day 1: The High Decibels

The High Decibels

photos by Chad Syme

Middle school is a time during most people’s lives that they would never want to revisit once it has passed. Filled with awkwardness and uncomfortable situations for most young teenagers, it is a constant quest to simply fit in and co-exist. Now join us and travel back in time to meet twelve-year-old Duke Johnson. An East Oakland native, he spends his recesses with his friends free styling instead of playing basketball. His closest friend and constant supporter and hypeman is HD, aka Chief. Their first chance to perform for their classmates and friends came one day as part of a local high school talent show. The two were armed with only their fast lyrics, their confidence, and their trusty CD player, or so they thought. When it started skipping, the two were booed and hissed off stage. While many children would have been scarred and turned their backs on stage performances for life, these two plucky youngsters grew up to become Oaklands’ The High Decibels, earning critical acclaim and one of CMJ’s highest awards, a top five position on their Hip Hop chart with their debut release.

Duke and Chief hooked up with guitarist KC Booker, who spotted Duke at a local poetry slam. As a solo artist and with his former group Big Soul, KC had already developed a successful blend of blues, rock, and hip hop, and filled out the group with Deane Jenkins (drums) and Aaron Taunton (bass). The resulting rhythms of The High Decibels are sharp and innovative, catchy enough for the rock and roll crowd and funky enough for the blues and rap fans. Yet their most formidable strength lies in the heart of Duke’s affection and understanding of poetry. Highly influenced by the community he and Chief grew up in and by the difficulties they experienced (shootings, violence and economic strife), Duke turned the rhymes that led him to the top ranks of Bay Area poetry slam competitions into his moving yet ultimately uplifting lyrics. Armed with such pure, The High Decibels are only getting started.

The High Decibels

The High Decibels

The High Decibels

The High Decibels

The High Decibels

The High Decibels

The High Decibels

The High Decibels

The High Decibels

This entry was posted in KEXP, Live in San Francisco and tagged . Bookmark the permalink. Post a comment or leave a trackback: Trackback URL.

3 Comments

  1. Posted January 29, 2009 at 1:38 pm | Permalink

    These guys were awesome... they had me dancing around my bedroom smiling while I was putting laundry away.

  2. Posted January 29, 2009 at 2:39 pm | Permalink

    you guys need to move to San Francisco... please

  3. Posted March 6, 2009 at 8:24 am | Permalink

    Supremely groovy cats...loved it.

Post a Comment

Your email is never published nor shared. Required fields are marked *

*
*

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>

Donate Now!
where the music matters

The KEXP Blog

  • Listen Live:

    High Quality AAC+
    Excellent for PC, Mac, iPhones/iPads, Android Devices, tables, iTunes, Winamp, and VLC. High quality audio, low bandwidth

    MP3 Stream
    Best for computers running OSX or Windows with iTunes or the open source VideoLAN Player installed

  • KEXP AND THE UW

    The University of Washington Logo KEXP is a service of the
    University of Washington
  • iTunes and KEXP

    iTunes Logo
    You can now find KEXP under "Eclectic" in iTunes after the demise of the "Public" category, to better represent the diversity of our daytime variety shows and numerous specialty programs.
Sponsored By
Become a KEXP Sponsor!
  • KEXP Post Categories