Archetype thinks very deeply before putting pen to paper.

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Archetype thinks very deeply before putting pen to paper.

Put some heart in your art, or don't do it, Archetype's I.D. urges on "Signal." It's a sentiment that could serve as a manifesto for the Lawrence hip-hop duo. Eschewing the Alizé-swilling, bitch-slapping, thug-life gestures pervasive in local and national rap, I.D. (Isaac Diehl) and his partner-in-rhyme, Nezbeat (Jeremy Nesbitt), have carved a niche for themselves in the enlightened sector of Lawrence's hip-hop underground. In fact, Archetype is practically royalty in this subgenre, well-known for frill-free live performances and a determinedly old-school approach to beats, rhymes and life. But Archetype's studious, brow-furrowed stance -- which has earned the duo scads of respect and numerous shout-outs -- isn't the sort that fills clubs with partygoing rap fans.

"It's really poppy or popular, like some gangsta shit or some R&B shit," I.D. says of the area dance-club scene. "People are there just to be mindless and chase each other around. I'm not talkin' shit or anything. I just don't think our music has that kind of vibe. It definitely lacks a lot of the content of those kinds of music. But it's not a conscious decision, like, 'I'm not going to curse in this song, and I'm not going to talk about my bubbly.' It's just, that's not me; I don't talk about it because it's not in my head."

On "All in Your Head," one of Archetype's earliest tracks, I.D. compelled (but didn't push) his peers to seek a greater sense of originality in their rhymes rather than "erasing" their own histories by pimping popular MCs. Lyrically, it was a heady moment, a tongue-wagging that uplifted rather than upbraided. Another tune from the pair's formative years, "Mind Is a Miracle," espoused a simple yet fundamental Archetype philosophy over Nezbeat's rolling, P-funky bass line. But for the most part, Archetype's early material was plagued by a work-in-progress feel, built on anorexic production that offered only a meager backdrop for I.D.'s verbal bluster.

These songs appeared in wholly updated form on the a fourteen-track demo. Recorded at the Conservatory of Recording Arts in Tempe, Arizona, the sessions unearthed a number of gems, several of which might eventually see the light of day. But new CDs can be hard to come by in local hip-hop.

"Nothing dope has really come out, as far as albums go, in the last year," Nezbeat laments. "Everyone's waiting on Approach's album, the Sounds Good album, Close Encounters." Diehl promises that Archetype's nearly finished debut, Freehand Formula, will finally receive a public airing in the coming months. Initial mixes are highly promising, with Archetype seeming to have solidified its sound at last.

The early music often seemed like an afterthought to I.D.'s verbal swordplay, but sonics now assume a primary role. A revitalized "Signal" finds I.D. popping and locking his way through Nezbeat's nimble soundtrack, and the producer deftly inserts a jungle beat into a remix of another early number, "Broadcast."

Nezbeat is also producing and overseeing a compilation, From the Huge Silence, named for a 1987 exhibition by Kansas director and photographer Gordon Parks. The disc will feature the cream of the area's hip-hop underground. Scheduled for mic patrol are Approach, Mac Lethal, Johnny Quest, the Ces Crew, Tom Foo and members of Seven Fold Symphony and Sounds Good. Of course, Diehl will crop up on several numbers, as will Outlet, a project featuring Nezbeat and a handful of instrumentalists. A number of virtual unknowns might also make the cut. Though Archetype has always been outspoken about its distaste for most of the area's mainstream rap acts, the duo insist that there are talented needles in Kansas' hip-hop haystack.

"I'm particular about MCs," Nezbeat explains. "But there's a lot of kids around the area that are dope -- you see them freestyling at shows or whatever. I'm just trying to get that out."

And putting heart into art in the process.

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