Sunday, June 1, 2008

I’m not White, I’m clear…

If you ever questioned my guarantees on the musical broadness to be covered by this blog, know that today I will be talking about hip hop. Why? Because today, I need to bob my head. My past few months obsession with the blues has left me needing a small break to venture into other sounds; rekindle the old, and hunt down the new.

There’s always an akward aura in the air whenever white people talk about / listen to hip hop. A genre born of black oppression and strife doesn’t exactly seem like a fair playground for middle class white kids and as such, people always seem to laugh when white boys be worried about being caught ridin dirty. In the same light, many people might find it odd to see a G’d out black guy head banging to Scandinavian doom metal.

However, these are new times, and I’d like to think that recent generations have started to break down and blur such rigid stereotype lines, and restrictions. Afterall, one of the most influential hardcore bands were the bad brains, Everlast has been rapping for nearly 20 years, and people are starting to realize that music is simply what you make it. Many people would say Eminem has helped this situation, but I would actually say the exact opposite. His self-ostracization from the industry and ‘bad boy’ image has further separated white rap and made an even larger gap. As such, today, I want to shine the light on a few white rappers who don’t need to be media whores to sell records.

Anyone who releases an album titled, When Life Gives you Lemons, Paint that Shit Gold, doesn’t even need to have good music… I already would attest to their genius. Atmosphere went and did just that. Being signed to Epitaph, a once punk, but now slowly adapting to modern times label, gives one credence to do things a little different, and Slug (Sean Daley) has done just that. Giving an intensely personal and introspective twist to his lyrics, Atmosphere comes off as a lot more than just guns and hoes. Flip to the next track and you get some of the most poignant commentary on society, politics, and news media. Not afraid to tackle ugly issues, Atmosphere makes us look at the things we don’t necessarily want to. It’s as American as apple pie and embarrassment.

Jumping to the north side of the border, we find an artist who chooses to take himself a little less seriously, while still keeping his lyrics quick and witty. The smooth, fast flowing licks of Toronto’s Abdominal will make you move, relax and laugh all at once. Being a self-proclaimed connoisseur of worldly foods (from gourmet to junk), Abdominal often raps about food, and eating. The results; a delicious blend of drop beats, fast moving quips, and catchy lyrical phrases. Abdominal can make you dance… or at minimum, hungry. In the end though, it could be good for your abs.

Lastly, I must champion one of my favorite MCs in the world. Another Canuck, Vancouver’s Kyprios has earned his respect in this world. Being a partial member of the Sweatshop Union crew, Kyp has pushed forward lyrics and ideas onto the world which are intended to change things. While some of his best tracks have been with the Sweatshop crew, this doesn’t in the least take away from the genius of his solo album, released in 2003. Not simply wanting to pump out hot singles and a platinum album, Kyprios infuses his lyrics with ideas which force the listener to think. Looking to his background as a slam poet, begins to piece together a profile of this lyrical prophet, however hearing his words change you, shows the full.

-Trust me... you shouldn't trust anyone.