Lessondary will be dropping an album on June 24th and you may be thinking “who the hell is Lessondary?” Thank you, Robin Harris, I’ll tell you. They are a hip-hop collective that welcomes the two members of Tanya Morgan (Donwill and Von Pea), Ilyas Nashid, Rob Cave, Che Grand, Jermiside, Elucid, Aeon, and Brickbeats. You may have heard them individually or in other musical functions but this is actually the first Lessondary album. It will be called Ahead Of Schedule and you can hear a track from it below, check out “Introducing…”.
Von Pea has another song done with The Other Guys and this time he’s welcoming in THe Lessondary for “Connect Four”, which features Donwill, Ilyas, Spec Boogie, Aeon, and Jermicide in a song that may be one of the best you’ve heard (or will hear) in 2014. Do not deny its greatness.
This is a good hip-hop album because Uncommon Nasa goes all over the place musically and lyrically. I don’t mean he’s rapping offbeat or just saying things that are random or abstract in a Cappadonna fashion, but it reminds me of a time when Kool Keith, Jungle Brothers, and J-Zone could come up with a wide assortment of different things and it would take the listener to find a way to tie it all together. Uncommon Nasa takes things back to a certain place and time with New York Telephone and with a title that refers to a dead technology, it sets you into the world when all hip-hop seemed endless and fearless.
It feels like a basement album, the type of music you can sense was written in the kitchen or basement, writing everything down with rough drafts down by his feet, only for him to be surrounded by the equipment and get deep into the project. It feels like an album we all used to fall in love with because while it had a raw feel, it sounded perfect. Just to be able to hear a drum snare here, a bass stab there, and a cowbell that would make you go “I KNOW WHERE THAT CAME FROM!” is what made your day, week, or month. “1999 seems like a long time ago” is what he talks about in “Feedback Loop”, where he reflects on what life was like before 9/11, and how it felt as if his youth ended that day, or at least it was a way for him and many others to grow up when they weren’t ready.
Even if some of the tracks may come off as spontaneous, there is a continuity throughout, one that has Uncommon Nasa merely saying “stay with me and ride to the finish line”. There may not be a direct moral to the story, it may be an assortment of stories but perhaps reaching the finale, it’s about experiencing something in full, knowing that you felt good and want to put that in your back pocket to enjoy it again.
The Free Way is the latest album from Brooklyn’s Corina Corina, and she has released a new video for it, the second single from the album. This one is called “Do You Mind?”, which features Elucid assisting in the track. The song was produced by Dirt E. Dutch, while the video comes courtesy of director Kyle Young. With the first day of summer only a day away, perhaps it’s time to find your favorite song to sit on the stoop to. Consider making “Do You Mind?” that summer hit.
Uncommon Nasa’s Land Of The Way It Is is a slight throwback to the days when rappers and producers made an emphasis on well written and spoken lyrics and words, and deep production that wasn’t assembled from what everyone else was doing or wanted to be accessible. “Pasta w/ Butter” is a nice and funky song that touches on the struggles many of us have to deal with in order to make it in troubled times, while “My Ego’s Big” is about the attitudes we all tend to carry, even though we don’t have to. Aeon Grey and Elucid help out with their attitudes, creating a movement of smacks and cracks. The only time the album gets weak is in the final song, “The Future”, and with a title like that I expected things to be wrapped up nicely but for me, it didn’t, thus becoming the only flaw I could sense from Land Of The Way It Is, but it may not be a flaw for you. This is the kind of hip-hop I would turn to first, and I’d like to think that accounts for something.
(Uncommon Nasa has since released a new single with Sarcasmo and Google called “Uncommon Karma”, which you’ll want to check out by clicking here.)
Richard Louissant is responsible for this new video by Von Pea, a track taken from his album Pea’s Gotta Have It. The song and video features Elucid and Che Grand, and just as he’s gotta have it, you gotta see this.
There was a time when hip-hop looked beyond its own limits, wanting to expand over what it had created for itself. Some felt that doing anything “other than” meant you weren’t hip-hop, and that was especially true within the United States. Over in hip-hop, raps and breakbeats were turning into new genres, sub-genres, and sub-genres of sub-genres. To hear it as it went down, even with a two to three month delay, felt like you were rushing into the future awaiting for that rocket ship to come through and take you even further. Elucid is a Brooklyn rapper who makes music is very much of that futuristic vibe, at least he is someone who is allowing his flows to be taken to/into new places that very few would dare due today, so once again it is music of the unknown future, destination unknown.
Super Chocolate Back Simian is said to be a two-part mixtape with 12 tracks of relentless hip-hop passion. It reminds me of what was going on in the mid-90’s when producers and MC’s were doing loads of multi-layering that was slightly different from Bomb Squad‘s techniques, but very much about altering what you think you’re listening. Elucid can sound very gruff, as he does in “Pain Parade”, but other times he could easily become one of today’s top maintream rapper too. However, he’s covering topics that aren’t easy to get into, or at least it will take a number of lyrics to understand his stories and metaphors, this is not easy listening hip-hop by any means. The El-P-produced “MEANR” begins almost without a rhythm, or at least the voice is the rhythm and the drums are non-existent during the intro. When the beats kick in, it sounds paranoid and insane. With a line like “jungle fever, no, we don’t pay for reefer/top dollar, bring me the head of Justin Bieber”, this is not about making power moves to become an MC for models and swimsuit endorsements, this is that afterworld shit and it’s great.
Even though it sounds like what hip-hop could sound like ten to twenty years from now, its very Eurocentric qualities with hints of reggae and dub shows that all of the producers involved (along with El-P, songs are produced by Sensei, Breakage, Jamie Vex’d, 12th Planet, Chasing Shadows, Mexicans with Guns, Lorn/Samiyam, Skream, Leonard Destroy, and DVA are smiling and smirking with the potential of bringing their style of music out of their minds and into the world. The entire project was tightly controlled by Primus Luta, and upon hearing how it’s presented, I definitely want to hear what Elucid offers next. Upon my first listen, I found it hard to immediately come up with an easy way to describe it, but I had said that perhaps it’s “post-apocalyptic hip-hop for those still with hope”. In other words, if hip-hop has been declared dead, this is the music for people willing to wait for it to resurrect itself.
(Super Chocolate Black Simian can be downloaded for free by going to ConcreteSoundSystem.com.)
Dumhi remains one of my favorite hip-hop groups out there, but then it became known that the group was not only a functioning collective, but a project from the mind of Rajan Jugran. In other words, Dumhi can be a two-headed beast at any given time, and one of those heads may branch out to reveal three, four, or twelve more heads atr any given time. It’s my of saying that when it remains to be a group vibe, Dumhi is a unit of people. When it wants to be a means of musical exploration from one man, Dumhi is one man.
First off, I want to apologize to Dumhi as a whole for the delay in this review. The album arrived at a time when a number of other albums were coming in, to the point where I felt I was being bombarded with new music. Yes, I realize you guys are saying “Book, we’re fucking Dumhi, you’re our boy, put us on the top of your listening pile and make us a priority.” I know, and again I apologize. But now that I’m listening to the music, looking at brick buildings and barbed water, and hearing how they are a perfect fit, and I now regret delaying my Dumhi intake.
The Jungle (self-released) looks like a serious album, you don’t place a photo like that on the cover to make people think “oh, this is a happy album”. The tone is somber and dark, perhaps just like the times we live in. While not a concept album, there is a running theme, that of how life and the surroundings we live in feel more like a jungle, and the jungle seems to be getting bigger and more wide spread. Has that jungle always existed? Were the schoolyard jungle gyms a microcosm of what we were going to grow into, or just a middle finger from our parents as a message which reads “ha ha, you on your own now, son”?
With the help of such MC’s as Elucid, Random, Reef The Lost Cauze, Burke The Jurke, Jermiside, and Che Grand among others, they tell a story that may sound different from afar, but they connect in the way they all talk about the struggle to live, breathe, and comprehend in the early 21st century. When Raj/Haj slips in an instrumental interlude, it feels like incidental music from a 70’s film, and maybe that’s the point: to show that some of the things being explored in movies we watched during our youth is now our reality, and the connection to those old stories remains. Maybe we can find solutions in those old stories by telling the current stories, and thus Dumhi continue to be storytellers for today and the generations to come. The Jungle is perhaps what we want it to be, what we deny, but it also allows us to figure out why the jungle exists, or does it exists? Just like racial slurs and living conditions, can people break out of the jungle in order to find something better, or is it always about a vicious game of survival in a concrete jungle? Or are the oppressors in it for the game to watch animals prey on each other? While The Jungle doesn’t get heavy in a political context, it does touch upon it socially, to put up a mirror for us to not only see what we don’t want to see, but hopefully to reflect back at those who don’t think those conditions exist. Perhaps it means reconditioning mentalities, or reconditioning those who do not feel those conditions can or should change.
Perhaps it is deep after all. To be continued…