BLUE SCHOLARS / “Loyalty”
It’s a south side revival Put your hands high Let your arms be the pillars That be holding up the sky I heard a few heads say hip hop is dead No it’s not. It’s just malnourished and underfed —“Southside Revival”I’m down with this. Big time. This duo of second-generation immigrants hailing out of Seattle, Washington is rap’s biggest northwest news since Sir Mix-a-Lot. But even if they weren’t selling, couldn’t even attract flies, I would still be on a Blue Scholars tip. Why? Because I think their sound is sound, their noize makes sense. I understand their aesthetic—I dig their approach of putting together beats and lyrics after sitting together and reasoning for weeks. Bayani is their second full length. This one is a concept album.
The story behind the title “Bayani” is interesting. “Bayan,” as Baha’is know, in Arabic/Farsi translates to “speech” or “utterance,” and the Holy Book from The Bab carries this name as well. In Tagalog, the language of the Philippines, the origin of Geo’s heritage, “Bayan” means “the people” and it carries a certain political connotation to it as well. When woven together as Bayani, the title of our record, it becomes a nod to both of our heritages and translates to “voice of the people.” The tracks on the album are also a collection of stories told from a grassroots level. I believe that I’ll always be inspired to make music from aesthetic level. The influence that world affairs and politics have on our music relates more to what we do with it; how we engage our listeners with the art we create. We want it to have content that inspires young minds to think critically. —DJ Sabzi
The emcee is Geologic. The deejay is Sabzi.
"Geo and I have been approached by different major labels, and we've had meetings with different folks in L.A. and here in Seattle," says Sabzi. "We were sort of thinking about the do-it-yourself method we've taken with everything, staying independent, and all the kind of activities that created the environment of the conditions that the music was born in, i.e., community work, service, and protection to youth. So, we decided as artists to join together, form a label, and basically create a business structure that can secure the integrity of the music, y'know, so our records didn't get shelved, and they don't put our music on particular ads or license them to things that might have a negative effect on the youth community that we're trying to have a positive effect on." "Artists have the potential to be the cultural leaders of their community," says Sabzi. "We can use that power to give to the community instead of being a group that selfishly takes from the community to fatten our bank accounts." "As an individual, I could have a pamphlet about some initiative and go knock on a thousand doors," says Sabzi. "But that's not gonna be nearly as effective as writing one really good song that creates a consciousness of the political climate locally, nationally, and internationally." —DJ Sabzi
"The purpose of our music is to be socially relevant to our communities." —SabziDJ Sabzi is not a silent partner. Although Geo is the emcee and the lead voice we hear on the tracks, Sabzi is equally articulate and thoughtful. The strength of this partnership is that it is truly a partnership. Geo is more than a word wizard. He is an organizer with Isangmahal Arts Kollective and a political and youth empowerment activist. In November 2007 Sabzi won The Redbull Big Tune Beat Battle National Championships. 12 individuals from Houston, New York, Los Angeles, Seattle, San Francisco, and Chicago went head to head, battling beats for the title of the country’s best beatmaker.
This entry was posted on Monday, February 4th, 2008 at 1:27 am and is filed under Contemporary. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.
7 Responses to “BLUE SCHOLARS / “Loyalty””
February 4th, 2008 at 11:48 am
try out PUTS, people under the stairs.
or clipse. or blu and exile. find the old paul wall and chamillioaire record “get your mind correct”
the blue scholars are stiff
many people want positive rap and bump it at the expense of bump-factor. devin the dude and the pack. mike ladd is that dude half the time too.
yall up on steve reid’s new ish?
February 4th, 2008 at 12:58 pm
Mtume, I feel ya but there is more merit than boredom in this bunch. They don’t make an all out assault to raise one’s consciousness with mechanized beats, they simply drop logical lyrics over B-grade grooves. What is probably boring you is the dated sound of the music and the less than over the top braggadocio and inflexion. Still, some of the tracks have lyrical wit:
“…let your arms be the pillars that are holding up the sky”, or the hook “I heard a few head say that Hip-Hop Dead. It’s not, it’s just malnurished and underfed.” -Southside Revival
“kept in bondage by the chain a creditor’s loan. Their money is like a B-Boys stance, it stays froze.” – Talk Story
Then there is Southbound and North By Northwest…probably the lamest of the bunch. I don’t know where to place Loyalty. The rap gets lost in the synthed background.
This reminds me of Redhead Kingpin and rappers of that era. Now, what’s funny is that if Eminem recorded the same tracks they’d be all over the charts.
February 5th, 2008 at 12:37 am
As a Hip Hop head I had some of the same reaction to Mtume ya Salaam, but the subject matter kept me listening. I think these guys can only improve. How many times have BS artist get a second listen just on the strength of hot beats. I will be supporting these guys with my money if it helps to keep this strain of Hip Hop alive.
February 5th, 2008 at 9:21 am
I gotta say…some of the other tracks were just OK to me, but the soundscape of LOYALTY is amazing! And that’s the kind of layered sound that is sorely missing from most hip-hop these days. I heard 3 tracks from the forthcoming new Pete Rock project last week and almost cried. Even the greats aren’t making great music anymore. So anytime we get a pearl from the underground, I’m gonna polish it and hold it up. Thanks, as usual, for introducing to something new and fresh.
February 5th, 2008 at 3:15 pm
I respect almost everyone’s opinion about music. I don’t think that music speaks to everyone the same way. We are all touched differently..fed differently….aroused by different beats, different lyrics, different melodies.
However, I can’t imagine anyone would dare call The Blue Scholars- Geo and Sabzi- boring. If you really and truely appreciate music you would recognize their message, their style and their strength. Particularly if you saw them live- they are ANYTHIGN but boring. Geo commands the stage while Sabzi keeps everyone grooving with his beats.
What you can’t deny and what shouldn’t be lost is the critical message they are sending not only to young people but our future. Have a voice. Listen. Bring about change. Accept. Embrace. Mobilize. Be better and bigger than your past.
All of that is anything but boring. It’s powerful stuff. And if you can’t see that I would argue that perhaps it is you not the music that is boring.
February 5th, 2008 at 11:00 pm
Hip hop is a rigorous genre. Content, reflection, ideas coupled with lyrical dexterity and the ability to invoke “the nod.” The former can’t be at the expense of the latter.
Those of us who identify with Mtume’s golden age are indeed hungry for that new thing, that new understanding and expression in the genre.
Recommend anything by French hip hop act Hocus Pocus.
Also check “As Iron Sharpens Iron” by The Procussions.
Leave a Reply
| top |
February 4th, 2008 at 11:20 am
Even if you can’t get down with Geologic, don’t sleep on Sabzi. He’s also the second half of another duo, Common Market. The emcee in that collab is Ra Scion, and if you’re looking for “lyrical dexterity” I don’t think you’ll be disappointed. But I think Ra’s best work was his previous album, “Live & Learn”. I think Sabzi may have laid down beats for one on two tracks on that album. I wish he would’ve provided beats for the entire album, because the only beef I have with the production is that the beats aren’t hard enough for Ra’s flow.