Conscious Rap

Artist: 
Zion I
Label: 
Mind Over Matter

     Zion I, aka Baba Zumbi's new album called The Labyrinth is a conscious rap album with personal, sociopolitical, and inspirational lyrics. The intro "Pre-Destine" and the outro "Departure" are recordings of Zumbi's two-year-oldson Kenji. Kenji had some kind words for his fathers listeners: "Hey people, don't hate. God will protect you. Focus on the good parts." The first two songs after the intro are Bangers! "What we Gone Do" is definitely a more trap oriented song.

Sounds Like: 
Aesop Rock
Sounds Like: 
Talib Kweli
Name: 
Brieana Sealy
Date Reviewed: 
11/16/2016
Artist: 
Sellassie
Label: 
M.Y.G.H.E.T.T.O. Records

            The song And They Don't Know Why is a single of Sellassie's debut album "Sins of Your Forefathers." This song has a groovy reggae sample, and a chorus with a sample from Randy Newman's Baltimore: "Cause the city is dyin', and they don't know why." There is an excerpt from Malcom X's famous The Ballot or the Bullet speech at the beginning of the song, so you already know it's heavy stuff. The song is about Sellassie's childhood and growing up in the ghetto s

Sounds Like: 
NWA
Sounds Like: 
Common
Name: 
Brieana Sealy
Date Reviewed: 
10/26/2016
Artist: 
Sellassie
Label: 
M.Y.G.H.E.T.T.O. Records

              The single "Cops Keep Firing" talks about police brutality and police violence within black commuites. "Cops keep firing in my environment" can be heard on loop in the background of the chorus while Sellassie recalls all of the victims of police violence; including Trayvon Martin, Andy Lopez, and Donald Johnson. The beat is old-school hip-hop sounding, the cyphers are aswell. Sellassie's political views are clear in this song. The problems of police brutality he speaks of are very real and still exist today.

Sounds Like: 
NWA
Sounds Like: 
Common
Name: 
Brieana Sealy
Date Reviewed: 
10/26/2016
Artist: 
Aesop Rock
Label: 
Rhymesayers Entertainment

I've been a fan of Aesop Rock since I first got obsessed with hip-hop 7 years ago. I consider his first proper album, Float, one of the greatest rap albums ever made. A lot has changed since then, though. The simple-cut boom bap expertly constructed by Blockhead from that first album has left, falling to much more complex beats filled with guitars, string basses, and synths packed in around Aesop's rapping. His more recent albums such as Skelethon lost me to a degree.

Sounds Like: 
Busdriver but a little less manic
Sounds Like: 
Intelligent like Deep Puddle Dynamics but 1000x more listenable
Name: 
Cullen Walsh
Date Reviewed: 
05/04/2016
Artist: 
Duals
Label: 
Self Released

Duals' "Honesty is Mandatory" is self-described on BandCamp as a "full DIY bedroom album." In other words, it is an inspired project constructed on meager means, and as any poor producer knows, there are struggles that come along with that. The main appeal for my own listening was the concept of following an artist through their explorations of style and sound.

Sounds Like: 
Deep Puddle Dynamics
Sounds Like: 
Saul Williams
Name: 
Cullen Walsh
Date Reviewed: 
10/21/2015
Artist: 
V.Nova
Label: 
n/a

This album is okay. It seems like V.Nova is really trying to call attention to the fact that rap culture is being controlled and driven by wealthy music executives. The hashtag on the cover of the album reads #freetheculture which is defintely a noble goal. The rapping itself was intense over mostly melodic, jazzy-ish "golden era" inspired beats. His flow is on the verge of hard hitting.

Sounds Like: 
joey bada$$
Name: 
Amelia Marsh
Date Reviewed: 
09/04/2015
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