If you follow underground and indie hip-hop on any level, it would be hard to miss the promotional campaign of Eternia, a lady who may seem like a new MC trying to do her hustle, but she has been recording and releasing music since the early 00’s. The way she has been pushing her lyrics, flow, and music to the public is admirable, at a time when everyone in hip-hop is doing the same. While being a female MC tends to make everyone point fingers, what it eventually leads up to is the hearing test, because while it’s the eyes that tend to tentative,it’s the ears that will calm all fears. She has had a rollercoaster of a career, but the ride has build up to an album that I feel defines what hip-hop represents in the 10’s, and I say that with confidence. The album is called At Last (Fat Beats), and if that’s meant to be a throwback to the confidence Etta James offered when she made the song into her own, then perhaps one day people will not be afraid to say Eternia is the Etta James of hip-hop, because it would mean throwing respect to two strong, powerful women with a level of confidence that can’t be fucked with.
The album teams her up with producer MoSS, and while Eternia has worked with a number of producers over the years, their union here is perfect. MoSS, like Madlib, The Alchemist, and No I.D., has a love for the funky and it goes deeper than the surface. The funk can make any dead ass move, but when the music is used as a way to communicate with the MC in question, there’s some multi-level intensity going on in each of these songs.
Eternia speaks about doing the work, slaving in the music scene as if she was the metaphorical “mama in the kitchen”, and if there’s any doubt about her skills, she’s ready to put anyone to the test:
If you ain’t scared, put me on the track, watch me kill you
It’s not cockiness, it’s confidence, it’s what I been through
I bet you only see one thing when you see me
I love it, y’all stupid for that, you make it easy
What I like about her is that she has skills, this isn’t manufactured music and lyrics made to be consumed and tossed out, it goes back to the days of listening, catching a hot rhyme, and wanting to rhyme because you never thought anyone would say or rhyme like that. There are a lot of “oh shit” moments throughout At Last, and to some that might mean she’s nothing more than one-liners and someone who rhymes for the mere of shocking people. Yeah, she’ll shock but she makes you want to hear more and not want to miss what she’s saying because she is a storyteller, in the tradition of Slick Rick, Doctor Ice, KRS-One, Kool Keith, MC Serch, and Ghostface Killah.
She gets down with Rah Digga and Rage in the name of sisterhood in “The BBQ” (7.41mb), where they speak about how much things have changed for ladies and the fact that “Fergie all we got left/sad story, even the award’s been dropped the category. these rap bitches corny/”99 Problems” my ass/We got about 99 with 99 in the flask”. This is 2010’s version of “Da Ladies In The House”, and when Eternia says she is not only “the Goddess of this rap shit” and how she’s “revelant to many who don’t follow the masses”, it’s literally the parting of the seas, especially when she says she’s more than happy to “laugh at you ’cause I can do what you can do better than you/Smack a few rappers ’til they act like vegetables/Impeccable, my timing for shining is now/Incredible, so cop the record now before it’s a collectible. That’s scripture right there on a Rakim level.
By the time the album hits track 12, the title track featuring Reef The Lost Cauze and Termanology, one might expect for the album to simply calm down and wrap up. Maybe I expected for the album to close because the title track felt like the sonic “moral of the story”. I was very happy with things as they were, but then MoSS fucks shit up with the intense “Day In The Life”, complete with a rock break, a distorted bass loop, a cut-up Hammond, and a flute. MoSS made you feel comfortable and perhaps puts the listener in the comfort zone, but then this song comes out of nowhere and my mouth dropped. You’ll feel like shaving your head Onyx style (Eternia even pays a brief tribute to the grimey bald heads in the last two line of her first verse) when she gets extra Canadian when she brings in Tona and the legendary Maestro Fresh Wes into the song. Mindblowing doesn’t even begin to describe this song and how it fits in at this phase of the album, it feels like what “Prophets OF Rage” felt like on Public Enemy‘s It Takes A Nation Of Millions To Hold Us Back.
When the album comes to its ultimate conclusion, in the form of “Goodbye“, you immediately want to call her your around the way girl, your homie, your mama, your sister, your brother, your father, the vitamin you’ve been lacking in your daily hip-hop intake, everything you ever wanted or thought the music had forgotten with time and financial gain, Eternia embodies. Yet no matter how much you try to sway her with the glory and fame, she would prefer to remain that girl who will do national and international tours, catch the bus back home, check her own mail, and be her own woman. This is her music, and what MoSS is able to do is not only dedicate himself to creating some incredibly sounding tracks (it’s not just what you hear, but how well everything balances out), but be able to sound like an extension of Eternia’s expression. At the same time, he continues to prove himself as a producer and I hope he gets the same kind of work and exposure that The Alchemist has had in recent years.
It would be foolish to say that I don’t want Eternia to make it big, if not selfish, because at times a level of success would mean slowly moving away from the core that made you who you were. To hold someone back from more and better is not a good thing. Yet even at my age, I’m still that kid loving wordplay, loving different voices and accents, and hearing all of this combined with a great attitude and love for the music, and wanting to let everyone know that this is what everyone should be hearing, what everyone should be looking and listening to as an example of what rap music means to me. It goes back to when the music was simply good and bad, when the needle approaching the record label meant the song running out and not wanting those emotions to end. Eternia is the H.E.R., and yes she’s committed.