December 21, 2006

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Royalty of the 603
Hip-hop duo represents for NH
By Erica Febre efebre@hippopress.com

Life is full of hardships. But, for two emcees from Raymond, it's about taking those hardships and letting them enlighten you.

Dave "Dizzy" Lafond (a.k.a. "Tastic" or "Mr. 603") and James "Jamish" Cunningham are a hip-hop duo know as the 603 Kings. In the last four years, they've compiled more than 400 original, homegrown beats, and they are constantly writing the lyrics to match.

"We've both had similar painful experiences in life, losing someone close to us, on more than one occasion. To be able to take that and put it all on paper is a way of dealing with it," Jamish said.

The 603 Kings have a regular gig at the Empire Lounge along with This Year's Mob, another local hip-hop duo that hosts the weekly hip-hop open mike and now serves as manager for 603 Kings.

"I like to challenge myself. I run out of breath on every verse that I drop. Every single day, we're writing rhymes and making beats constantly, like it's our full-time job ... that we don't get paid for yet," Jamish said.

Representing area code 603 has brought some confusion, though. A police officer stopped them once with the impression that the bumper sticker on their car, which read 603 Kings, was some kind of gang. Quickly explaining that it was the name of their group, they offered him a CD.

"It doesn't matter what color you are, where you're from or what you do. It's all just about how you do it. I'm a walkin', talkin' oxy, not a moron with insane alliteration, facin' a daily basis paradox," Dizzy said.

Raised on hip-hop, but drawing influences from a number of other genres, including jazz and classical music (Jamish tuned into 102.5 when the station played classical), the 603 Kings offer up a slice of melodic and rhythmic choruses and lyrical verses.

"There's some stuff on the radio that just shouldn't be. We could easily replace those bad songs with some of our own tracks. It's good to have someone from the local scene putting tracks out that anyone can vibe to," Dizzy said.

In fact, 603 Kings claim that they write each song with the intention of having it air on the radio. No song is more than two minutes longto conform with air-time standards.

"It seems that no one ever gets to do the things they like to do because they're always tied up in things that they have to do. Everything is so commercialized today, but that's not us. We're doing it because we love it. For now, that's payment enough," Jamish said.

In the 603
What: Live hip-hop performances and open mike
Who: The 603 Kings and hosts by This Year's Mob
Where: The Empire Lounge, 140 Queen City Ave., Manchester, 666-0901
When: Every Tuesday night from 9 p.m. to midnight
For more information: Go to myspace.com/the603kings or myspace.com/thisyearsmob.