Artist: Laura Mvula
Album: The Dreaming Room
I have spent what I estimate to be the past year and a half single. I would like to think the portion of the single life that measures up to twelve months were spent in suffering because I wasn’t getting out enough. I had been telling myself I was far too busy with work and school to mingle. The boredom that formed itself into an ominous grey cloud of loneliness, whose thunder rumbled the words “forever alone” was remedied, albeit only in part, with the release of Laura Mvula’s newest album the dreaming room.
I was moping when I came to bread. My good friend Laura fed a very thirsty man. Nevermind I walked away from the listening even more parched for love. The emotional wherewithal the artists was able to tap into gave me visions of hope. Metaphorically the song reads as a tale of a person on the outside edge of a breakup yet, entirely willing to go back to the basics of what made their relationship in the first place. The bread is actually being crumbed and laid on the path that two lovers walk in mind in spirit with the plan to be used in case the need to backtrack from where they came were to arise.
“Hard to say which way we go from here
Is it written in the stars?
Do they even know where we are?
We loved a while, let go, seen nothing for miles
Now we’re standing here alone
How will we ever get home?”
The chorus is the direction needed to make it out of such a predicament caused by a love left behind or ejected from.
Excerpt: “Lay the Bread crumbs down so we can find our way.”
Hindsight 20/20, the best move is for both individuals to hold on to the facts of who they were before the relationship. As to how that’s done, a journal I guess. An optimistic interpretation is couples must work together to keep a framework on what two folks want to achieve in a relationship, as well as, an open line of communication that regularly visits where they have come from and where they wish to go. (disclaimer: NOT an endorsement of the where do you see us going discussion) (work would be much more fun if I had someone cute to run home to…Who can, Who can I run too?) Anyway, the song jams. Laura’s music in general jams. Great tune to crank up in the over the ear headphones to block out the coworkers. My Brainwaves don’t get too tangled over the simple marching the drum kicks as Laura sings and thus the song became one of the years best productivity tools for me.
Album: the 40akers Project –
I have been a Nappy Roots fan since I was eight grade. Mind you I vehemently despised “Aww Naw” which you recall was a mega hit. It was my Teacher Ms. Fry who introduced the class to the group. (Flash back for the context… she must have been a member of one of those CD club memberships. Remember those? I must have had 5 copies of the miseducation of Lauryn Hill in my house because of it.) Nonetheless, I have been a fan since then. I went out and convinced my mother to buy me a copy of their “Watermelon, Chicken, and Grits”. To this day I keep up with all their releases. There are some gems in their catalog. One of them makes this countdown.
The specialty of these guys is crafting well balanced lessons in perspective. In my daily practice this tune drew out the awareness necessary to realize that I’m a fairly fortunate person. My health is decent and I am able to afford to pursue the things that I find personally fulfilling.
Group Member Fishscales is in my top ten favorite rappers. He consistently provides highly informative characterizations of working class life. In this song he gives a rundown of “his” problems and reminds himself that he can see the light at the end of the tunnel. Still, Scales might be at the end of his wits but he is fighting with all the tools he has mastery over.
“Cancer got my uncle sick
My cousin hustling, he want to quit
I’m still working hard without benefits
Still on probation, I’m bound to slip(I see it)”
As the chorus notes the character is “blinded by worries and problems.” The verse it sounds as if desperation will push him toward sacrificing his freedom, but not necessarily. This is great music for those moments of doubt. I seem to never count how many times I figured my maximum effort would fail. Regardless of the belief of the negative voice in my head I forged forward against the fear of failure. My take away is the character Scales is portraying is indeed at risk from making a poor decision, however, his hard work may just as well lead him to a breakthrough that will lead to a highly impactful positive outcome. I likely only see things this way because that’s generally the way sales tend to work for me. Conversations that take place months prior are the ones with the biggest payoff after I have been giving an exhaustive list on why my product won’t work. A tip of the hat to Nappy Roots.
Album: Pronto EP
With respect to the artist this is some pure ignorance solely on the grounds of being a tale of a dangerous, unrepentant felonious lifestyle. Freddie Gibbs is one articulate individual with an amazing gift to paint vivid chilling pictures of how dark the nightlife can become. (Channelling Cornel West: My dear brother Gangsta Gibbs, champions a dangerous message in a way that is provocative and funky to the haves and crudely inspiring to the fiscally depraved. Note Cornel ain’t say that.)I am alway impressed with the way Gibbs is able to explore the viewpoint of the individual who has the ability to make safer, more socially satisfactory life choices but instead of doing such, takes his advanced reasoning and communication skills to head a criminal enterprise without ever being repetitive or entirely tone deaf to the impact his decisions have on everyone and thing around him.
In theme, Where there is a person who is willing to engage in underground trade in his territory (Eastside) there is Mr. Gibbs ready to allow a bullet to enhance his organizations hold on the market place.
This is a listen that serves as a guilty pleasure. My life is so far removed from that being described by the artist that I am closer to being named PBA Officer of The Year than serving as a member of a underworld conglomerate.
A dooming set over 808s and rapid fire precision wordsmanship proves that Freddie is one of hip hop’s most gifted orators. So long as I get flustered enough on a project to become frustrated, this tune will fit snuggly into my work life. All other times i’m thinking way too much over how attitudes such as these presented by Gibbs only work for the dominant. All others must suffer the consequences. However if i’m enjoying this ensemble of beats and rhymes as a mental cinematic experience alone, my favorite
“you the type of nigga gotta have it all…telling me she gon go but she can’t leave…man Fred nigga please when you came back home she was gone with the dog and the car keys”
(Damn Fred, did she have to take the dog? Damn the car, just bring roover back Astro. How can you run off with man’s best friend. Fred fed him. Chicken fried Kibbles with bits smoothed in a mushroom gravy but you just gonna lure him away with a bone. Don’t have Fred’s dog going on walks with another man. Don’t be that cold. Oh wait, Fred’s saying something…..)
“now i’m realizing that I love, put this other life above her, tricking off on a stripper I bet I bust her…hide my feelings in my drug habits and I base my raps off of interaction with drug
addicts; and drug dealers, them killers creeping coming for that paper. One of my own homies might leave a nigga stankin…”
(Wait, wait, second thought you and that dog keep each other safe. Fred sounds like he gonna be alright. He tough. And it don’t sound like the excitement of such a life is a good fit for a square. I apologize for rushing to judgement. Nope, you can’t stay here, Fred Crazy.) just incase I was tempted even in thought to run to the black market for funds I am motivated by this song to punch that clock and horde legal money until I find a means of providing for myself that don’t subject me to seemingly limitless physical pain and if survive, PTSD. Somehow meager wages provided in an uneventful climax free steady stream isn’t that bad. Thanks Gangster Gibbs for the gift of perspective.
Artist Lupe Fiasco
Song: Little Death,
Album Tetsuo and Youth.
Staying in the Mid-West with Gangsta Gibbs we join Lupe Fiasco of Chicago Illinois.
Another member of my top 10 and
Probably one of the most talented mainstream lyricist/song makers ever to lend his superpowers via pen to the genre of hip hop Wasalu “Lupe the Fiasco” Jaco, gave the world another masterpiece with Tetsuo and Youth. Granted I don’t know what that album title means, i hear it’s something to do with Japanese culture. (A quick wikipedia search of Tetsuo could turn me into a more cultured person but I’m using the energy of my typing hands writing this and thus my scattered mind has gotten lost again annnnnd…. I’m thinking about what they put in Snickers that’s so good at promoting agreeability.)
Back to the song Little Death, Lupe packaged the songs lyrics in a way that had me decoding its meaning using the few bite size pieces at a time. (Have Lupe fans noticed all the different culturally based views and notions he so effortlessly blended on this song more and throughout the entire album? This dude redrafted the life and times of Jesus and made him a messiah walking in a modern ghetto on “Madonna”. If this dude has a ghostwriter that person is literally the God MC.)
Rhyming is this man’s job and at it he’s a black belt. How long did this song take him to write?. Every sentence in this song is a stunningly sharp punch line. This is more potent wake me up than black coffee on the ride to the office. This is a fist slamming into your face coupled with a never ending supply of subtle venomous sting every time the offending knuckle makes contact with the victim’s cheek. Those stings turn come together into a stabbing as the message of the song builds into something more monumental having to do with how the human condition is one of constant contradictions that are moved forward irrationally under the guise of religious piety and thereafter law. Allowing this song to play on repeat is hazardous. Allow this song to churn will cause anaphylactic shock caused by an overdose on your body’s own supply of dopamine. ( Sidenote: Class action lawsuit anyone? Lupe has scrambled our brain chemistry causing hypersensitivity to evaluating cause and effects of what happens when religion and judgmentalism are linked not by god but the living. )
To many qoutable to pick just one. Listen for yourself.