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Taylor Dunn: Driving and Rhyming.

October 23, 2013

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAText and image by Brendan Menapace.

Taylor Dunn has a lot on his plate.

He’s got a rap career that’s been growing stronger and a new mixtape out.  Add to that the fact that he is a college student studying biology and gearing up to take the MCAT. Oh, and by the way, he also plays basketball for his school, La Salle University, the same La Salle that made it to last year’s Sweet Sixteen of the NCAA Tournament.

“It’s hard,” Dunn says. “School is first and then comes basketball, of course. Those two things need to be my priority. But music isn’t just a hobby to me. It’s not just something I do when I have free time. Usually I can build up enough material during the school year and basketball season to release a tape, like I did this summer.  I think it’s a good balance.  It does get hard but I think I do a pretty good job of it.”

Catch Dunn in the studio and he’s constantly moving around the room, tweaking different things on monitors, discussing lines and generally just handling things like, well, a point guard would on the basketball court.

“I’m trying to produce and rap,” Dunn says of his latest release, Collective Theory, which came out in July.  “I’m really hands-on with what I’m doing because I want everything to sound like it’s a movie within itself, and give the listener a different feeling every time. I don’t want two songs to run together in somebody’s head.”

That’s one goal that Dunn and his production team have accomplished very well. The album displays their huge variety of influences and, as the name of the mixtape states, it’s truly a collective effort from all angles of production.  Music that has a wide spectrum of influences can sometimes be forgettable and disjointed, but that’s not the case here. Dunn forgoes redundancy and maintains a very strong sense of identity on every song.

His two other teammates in production are Philly-based Philth Spector and UK-based Phill Blanks, whom Spector and Dunn call a “wizard.” Blanks sometimes makes upwards of seven beats in one night. The three have kept a pretty strong work ethic through the process of creating Collective Theory.

“We didn’t want to settle,” says Spector.  “People liked Taylor’s first tape. We built on that, and then we built off of the next one, and on this tape, we just wanted to keep building and making it better.”

Dunn’s first effort, Daydreamin’, came out in 2011.  Then there was October 2012’s On the Contrary, which got some positive attention from blogs and magazines. Collective Theory was named one of the top mixtapes of July by ok-tho.com and was a top release for a week and a half on DatPiff.com. Dunn is hoping to gain even more of a following with his latest release.

“Hopefully people latch on, especially in this city,” he says.  “In Philadelphia, once they ride with you, they ride with you. Cassidy could be doing Mother Goose rhymes and they’d still be coming. Same with guys like Freeway.  Everybody who plays in Philly, he’s at the show doing his songs and they love him. That type of reception is what any artist would want.”

Dunn isn’t your average rapper, not by a long shot. He balances playing Division I hoops with his studies, while making rhymes on plane rides to games.

The guy has a whole lot to be cocky about these days but that’s not what you hear in his music. Instead, you hear a sense of joy.  It’s obvious that Dunn takes real pride in what he does and he is having a great time making music with his friends in Philadelphia.

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