Since the mid-90s, a duo has been making its way to the top of the Spanish-speaking hip-hop world. Initially blasting the very widespread hardcore sound influenced by Madrid crew El Club de los Poetas Violentos, i.e. rough-ass beats and equally hoarse and raspy voices, DJ Acción Sánchez (Oscar Sánchez) and MC Zatu (Saturnio Rey) have expanded their musical and lyrical horizons with every album and every 12″ they’ve since put out. After a few demos and underground tapes, they dropped their first legitimate album in 1999. SFDK, standing for Siempre Fuertes de Konciencia (Always Strong in Concience) launched onto a voyage from the Sevillan underground to international stardom, doing shows from Spain to Latin America.
SFDK – Siempre Fuertes (1999)
SFDK – Desde los Chiqueros (2000)
While the first two albums are still in hardcore mode, with dope production and impressing lyricism nevertheless, their third album, 2001 Odisea en el Lodo (2001 Mud Odyssey — yes, that’s a Stanley Kubrick reference) features a more soft-voiced Zatu with a healthy dose of humour and a generally more accessible tone. Add to that Acción Sánchez’s production that instantly raised the bar for all others fiddling with music, this album is at once extremely catchy and still far from selling out to the masses. They’ve simply stripped their music of the distracting noise to let the listeners hear just how dope the two are at their craft. One of the great classics in Spanish hip-hop and a must-have for everybody and their moms.
SFDK – 2001 Odisea en el Lodo (2003)
Following one year later is their move to starting their own label SFDK Records. To celebrate this step towards independence, this 12″ Después de… (After…) exemplifies what I just said about the album before. The sound is once again reduced to its bare necessities, so that we get the impression Zatu is rapping straight into our ear and Sánchez does little more than play around on two or three buttons. In the reduction, we can recognize their genius. The tracks on this 12″ are not featured on any albums and it marks the duo’s development towards an even broader musical spectrum, as we will see in the album that follows.
SFDK – Después de… 12″ (2004)
With this album, I’m still not sure how dope it is. Acción Sánchez experiments with live instrumentation, collages of swing rhythms and arrangements that show he’s not just a hip-hop DJ, but a musician. Parallels to Looptroop’s DJ Embee come to mind, even though soundwise, the two populate different fields. 2005 simply oozes creativity and the desire to grow, expand and experiment.
Unfortunately, and I hate to say this, Zatu’s intonation throughout most of the album is a bit grating and he sounds like he’s constantly exclaiming each line. When listening to the whole album in one go, this can be a bit irritating. On the whole, a great album, despite this.
SFDK – 2005 (2005)
For 2007, SFDK have a brandnew album lined up, so watch out. I can’t wait to see where they’re taking us next.