Archive for June, 2007

Celcius – Wanderlust

Celcius of Psychokinetiks

Gitchoudere Download
Bleedin’ Download
Wanderlust Download
from Wanderlust (2007, Psychokinetiks)
Buy at iTunes Music Store

Celsius, half of the popular Bay Area hip hop group “Psychokinetics” is on his own and gearing up to release his debut solo project, “Wanderlust.” By crafting intelligent and heartfelt rhymes backed by the bangin’ beats of some of the world’s best undiscovered producers (Headnodic, Dirt Nasty, Mophono, Dj Uppercut, The Friendly Traveler, Denizen, iLL media), Celsius has created a beautifully balanced album that walks the fine line between underground and accessible.

By blending the hilarious pet-peeve reference song “Manners” with the club friendly anthem “Bleedin” and the political and introspective tracks like “Magic Bullet” and “Cells”, Celsius will garner a larger following throughout the hip hop community and beyond. “Wanderlust” never lets up for a moment with the intense storytelling of “Portraits” and the soulful strut of “Livin’ 4 U”, which rounds out this truly diverse and distinct album.

Celsius delivers in the studio, but as anyone who’s seen him live knows, he’s an energetic, engaging, and infectious performer on stage. These qualities have helped Celsius and Psychokinetics build a strong fan base from Japan to Denver to Hawaii, and of course all the way back to the scenic Bay, where they’ve shared the stage with such hip-hop luminaries including KRS-One, Biz Markee, DJ Premier, Black Sheep, Digital Underground, Kool Keith, and more.

Witness why Celsius’ writings have earned him a John Lennon Songwriting Award and also runner-up in the Independent Music Awards. A hip hop fan since ’80, Celsius’ is true to the art and culture, and still believes in the power that the music holds to meaningfully captivate and inspire. In a world full of imitators and soul-less radio, Celsius’ is a breath of fresh air.

Update 07/20/07
I have taken down the MP3 links at the Artist’s request, even thought I was clearly authorized to post the material on the Broke BBoys website. My apologies to those of you who didnt get to sample the project. I have now posted the iTunes link (thanks Byron and April from IODA for the help). Buy the album!

Blue Scholars – Bayani

Blue Scholars

Fire For The People Download
Back Home Download
Joe Metro Download
from Bayani (2007, Rawkus)

With one full-length album (Self-Titled, 2004) and an 8-song EP (The Long March, 2005) the Blue Scholars have emerged out of the erupting Northwest hip-hop scene with soulful beats, poetic yet political rhymes and a reputation for dynamic live performances. With their second full-length release, Bayani, due out on June 12, 2007 on MASSLINE in collaboration with Rawkus Records, the torch bearing Seattle duo blends the personal and the political, unafraid to party in the process.

Emcee Geologic and DJ/producer Sabzi come from vastly different musical approaches to experiment with a unique, new sound that still echoes the classic boom-bap of a bygone era (see: A Tribe Called Quest, Digable Planets). Prior to their collision, Geo had already begun making local rounds as a battle emcee and spoken-word poet, while Sabzi honed his skills as a classical and jazz-trained pianist while attending indie ska and punk shows. This unlikely partnership set the precedent for what distinguishes the group from the vast sea of independent hip-hop artists – the ability to strike a balance between worlds usually seen distant from one another. Poetic lyricism with beats you can dance to. Marxist theory mixed with Baha’i spirituality. Musical influences ranging from Thelonius Monk and Aphex Twin to Marvin Gaye and J Dilla.

However, the bridge between the two artists goes far beyond musical interests. Blue Scholars is as much rooted in the music as it is in serving the people. Their experiences as college students provide an intellectual dimension to their craft, while their backgrounds as second-generation sons of working-class immigrants keep the music grounded. Armed with a purpose beyond creating music for music’s sake, Blue Scholars take the classic form of the emcee/DJ duo (Gangstarr, Pete Rock & CL Smooth, Eric B. & Rakim) while carrying the essence of militant, yet personal struggle shown by hip-hop luminaries such as Public Enemy and KRS-One.

There is no mistaking that Bayani marks a creative and emotional leap forward for Blue Scholars. The four years since recording their first album has been marked by four years of war and uncertainty. People everywhere are looking for answers, growing tired of the banality and repetitiveness of the music and culture that currently dominates the airwaves. Similar to the wave of protest music that emerged during the Vietnam war, Bayani is a statement record stamped with the anger, depression and the slowly emerging hope of these uncertain times.

Less sloganeering and more storytelling, Bayani showcases a more focused Geologic and a polished Sabzi coming into their own as a premier DJ-emcee duo. “The Distance” tells the story of a working-class immigrant, accompanied by a dark melodic soundscape that recalls a Philippine dance song. Geo also flexes his narrating skills on “Joe Metro,” an ode to Seattle’s lone form of public transportation and “50 Thousand Deep,” recalling the 1999 “Battle in Seattle” at the historic WTO protests. The album’s title is also a nod to Geologic and Sabzi’s communities, as the word Bayani can be found in both the Tagalog (Filipino) and Farsi (Persian) languages. In Tagalog (Filipino), the word translates to “heroes (of the people)” and in Farsi, “the divine word.”

Since 2002, the duo has become renowned live show veterans, rocking over 200 shows with the likes of Kanye West, De La Soul, Immortal Technique, and supporting such acts as Zion I, One Be Lo, The Coup and Soul Position on tour, labor organizing conferences and youth-run community center shows to playing the main stage at Sasquatch! (2006) and Bumbershoot (2006). In June 2006, Blue Scholars joined forces with Common Market (emcee RA Scion and DJ Sabzi) and emcee Gabriel Teodros (of Abyssinian Creole) to launch MASSLINE, a new artist-run independent record label. Partnering with Rawkus Records to release Bayani to a larger audience, Blue Scholars’ aim to mobilize more minds and bodies towards liberation while keeping their mission the same as it ever was: to serve the people.

KRS-One & Marley Marl – Hip Hop Lives

KRS-One and Marley Marl

Hip Hop Lives Download
Kill A Rapper Download
from Hip Hop Lives (2007, Koch)

KRS One is back again… again. You might remember KRS-One from everything that has anything to do with hip hop that isn’t embarrassing. KRS-One is not commonly on the news because he makes Hip Hop look reputable by speaking eloquently, not getting shot, never hit by cars, not peeing his pants on stage, not walking out on audiences, no frequent legal disputes, no bar fights at the strip club, never robbed on the street for wearing his “bling” all out in peoples eyes, nor does he have beef with anyone who we don’t find complete comedy in terms of artists who call themselves Hip Hop. He has been labeled “The Teacha”, and it has become a recognized indisputable fact that he is a teacher and motivational speaker. If you’re not a fan and you’re searching for information about him, looking KRS-One up online on such sites as  wikipedia will get you almost nowhere in terms of who he is or knowing why people love him so much. KRS-One’s history is imprinted in vinyl, cassette, CD and DVD. In fact over time any true KRS-One fan can discuss his career from beginning to end and speak knowledgeably about his views on sex, war, drugs, politics, religion, and education. But even after meeting him in person and talking to him at a show person to person, I couldn’t tell you what kind of car he drives or what kind of crib he lives in or how much ice he wears. It never came up and it probably never will.

That being said, He released two albums that floored me recently (and it has been about three years since he has done that successfully). His recent solo album; My life, in 2006, and a shocking audio consecration of the reconciliation with the Queensbridge rival Marley Marl; Hip Hop Lives. Marley Marl has about as much pull as KRS-One as far as history, being the musical force behind many queens greats at some points, almost validating them with his appearances as if to put a big stamp on their heads thats says “Good”. I didn’t know what to expect from the two together, but what I got was consistency. The two old school Hip Hoppers completely score the ideals of Hip Hop through Marley’s signature style of moderate tempo beats and piano samples and frequent vocal samples while KRS’s enriches the album with his signature multiple tempo flows, biographical recap, and direct speech style. A few cameos from KRS’s unknown-unheard-of super-emcees, as I call them, over the formula I just discussed, and you have yourself an extremely self-confident effort by the duo. One of the tracks of note features Magic Juan formerly of Proyecto Uno, and I honestly hope to hear from him again after that short but sweet featuring spot. Despite the fact that I’ve been hooked on other older albums of late (Heroes in the City of Dope, Desired Effect, The Shining), This album finds its way right into the CD player and out of my computer speakers constantly. Not just in my car, Its been spreading like a plague to everyone I pass an earful of it to. I’d rate this collaboration album as strong and provoking as Heroes in the City of Dope with much much more experience and less experimentation. These are two Hip Hop artists who know exactly what they want.

Timm (aka Omniscion)

Dont Quit Your Day Job, Please


Feel This Way (feat. John Legend) Download
Uncle Raheim Download
from Dont Quit Your Day Job (2007, G.O.O.D Music)

So, I’m going to paint a picture for you in words. Picture this, You’re a big name producer. you’ve put on your biggest top hat, pulled out a Cuban blunt hand rolled by the hottest Brazilian swimsuit model you could afford and settled down in a bathtub full of money. suddenly, and without the slightest warning, your almost unknown/unheard of ghostwriter comes in, hat-in-hand and says, “Hey Mr. Producer, sir… remember two albums ago when you said you would produce my album one we finished yours…?” and a year later you have, Dont Quit Your Day Job by Kanye We– err.. I mean, Consequence. My bad, but at some points you cant tell the difference.

Consequence has a history. he is known for his slurred speech, rare appearances, and pretty swift lyrics. When i purchased this album i expected something along the lines of the old Consequence cameo spits, not so much like Spaceship by Kanye. But what i got was more like, Late registration II. It reminded me a lot of Canibus’s first album with Wyclef. Am i complaining? No… i’m more confused than anything else. Don’t Quit Your Day Job is a good Hip Hop album, but with really really really really really excessively-good production. Out of all the albums i’ve listened to in the past two weeks, its the only one i found worth writing about. For anyone who has ever been broke and had that Job that just wasn’t for you, or even anyone who had dreams and a lot more self esteem than opportunities, this album is directly aimed at you lyrically. Consequence’s lyrics are heartfelt and it was a pretty real album with tons of cameos from his mother, Kanye and surprisingly John legend… yea… John Legend. i don’t know what to say. i feel like im telling you all to go cop the last Black Eyed Peas album cause there was a Talib track on it somewhere with Q-tip. But really, its not that bad… meaning bad… not bad meaning good (heh). In short, this was an excellent album. its especially excellent if you’re a Kanye West fan, and its an ok album if you’re a fan of Hip Hop. however, it does fall short if you were looking for something with that underground flavor we all love.

Live from the 916,

Consequence – Guess What?!? (Skit)