Not much has changed since Baje One and DJ Snafu were teenagers.
From the day that the two bonded over hip hop while students at the Packer Collegiate Institute in Brooklyn Heights — back when they were known primarily as Michael Tumbarello and James Christensen — they’ve been making music together, with Baje on the mic, Snajfu on the beats.
“We caught the bug, just being in New York during the indie hip hop scene in the mid- to late-’90s,” said Baje. “That was the thing to do, what we all wanted to do. We went to shows on school nights, stayed up late Thursday nights listening to Columbia University radio. It was super inspiring. It still continues to be inspiring when I think about it.”
Since their origins making tapes at Snafu’s house, the duo has released two albums of dusty, lo-fi tracks that show a love of everything from comic books and video games to beer (for “Gran’Dad’s Nerve Tonic” in 2007, Junk Science even teamed up with Red Hook’s Sixpoint Craft Ales to create a limited-release brew to coincide with the CD’s release).
For their third album, “A Miraculous Kind of Machine,” out May 25, the group looks to make it an event yet again, this time focusing on their aesthetic, starting with the CD, which features artwork designed by Alexis Negron.
“I want to make sure that whatever physical product the label releases is so beyond normal looking. It has to look amazing,” said Baje, who looks to collaborate with artists in his Brooklyn hip hop collective, Nuclear Family, on future releases.
The new CD, which Junk Science celebrates with a release party at the Knitting Factory on May 28, features lyrics that move from the playful to the more sentimental. Take the track “First Snow,” which uses an eight-bit Nintendo beat (these are video game nerds) to rap poetic about growing up in Brooklyn — and what it’s like to stay and watch it change.
“It’s about what it’s like to witness not just the change of a neighborhood, but to witness the coming and going, the death and disappearance of characters who make the neighborhood what it is,” said Baje, who was raised and still lives in Park Slope.
Another track — the down-tempo, contemplative “Miraculous Machines,” dedicated to the memory of their high school teacher Linda Gold, who passed away last year — also addresses growing up as Baje raps about “the view from the fountain of youth.”
“It’s about turning 30 and what it feels like to enter new phases of your life,” said Baje.
It looks like some things eventually do change.
Junk Science at the Knitting Factory [361 Metropolitan Ave. at Havemayer Street in Williamsburg, (347) 529-6696], May 28 at 9 pm. Tickets $12 in advance, and include a copy of “A Miraculous Kind of Machine.” For info, visit www.modernshark.com.