Feature: The CommoNasm Project
It’s easy to imagine that Russian-born music producer and engineer TenDJiz gives a small chuckle or two when he’s predictably asked the question that he likely hears all the time. In the case of his interview with the online Miami New Times blog, this question about his name and how it’s pronounced turns out to be the first one asked, right off the bat.
He replies good-naturedly: “Tengiz is a South Russian equivalent to my government name Denis. It pronounces as ten geez. I’ve changed the spelling to TenDJiz because it’s google friendly.”
The unusual name aside, the Miami-based TenDJiz’s talent and musical instincts are no laughing matter. His latest project, CommoNasm, is the third in his self-proclaimed “Soulviet Trilogy” of works. His first, De La Soulviet, featured renowned hip hop group De La Soul, while his second effort Q-Tipokratiya used the rhymes of A Tribe Called Quest’s Q-Tip. All three mashup albums pair the vocals of hip hop veterans with instrumentals which are derived from Soviet jazz and soul music samples.
In the case of CommoNasm, TenDJiz takes the next step by combining the vocal stylings of Nas and Common, who are two distinct names in hip hop. Still, with the pair rumored to be releasing a collaborative album later this year, TenDJiz’s thinking behind CommoNasm isn’t far-fetched. Furthermore, there’s no denying that Nas’ slick wordplay and Common’s smooth style end up working quite well in unison while backed by these Soviet jazz and soul samples.
Songs like “Gold Moment” and “Geto Heaven Can” exemplify the breezy, summer music feel of the project, as the music and vocals work in perfect harmony, one never overpowering the other. Meanwhile, tracks like “Gladiator Made U Look” and “You Gowe Me” are produced with a more modern edge while still retaining the overall vibe of the album. In either case, TenDJiz smartly avoids useless filler and wasted space, as the 10-track album clocks in at just over 32 minutes. All told, the production value remains sharp throughout and TenDJiz will have even the most jaded listener bobbing their head along to the music.
When considering if there’s a political message behind the project, one could imagine that TenDJiz does indeed have a higher purpose in mind with his work. After all, the fusion of Soviet samples from the Cold War era paired with modern American hip hop could be seen as a bridging of the gap between the two formerly antagonistic superpower nations who have struggled in the past with cultural differences.
In fact, in the Miami New Times interview, he’s asked this very question. However, he avoids any such political declaration, simply replying, “Nah, I have no statement”.
In other words, he lets the music do all the talking.