Wednesday, May 30, 2012
KEVLAAR 7 – DIE AGELESS Review
Now, this music done right you could lose your hand gambling on the real when the time’s reading famine o’clock. Someday passes again and again with federal reserve notes selling out more tracks. So are we wrong for trying if this is life then we gon, then we gotta make it breakout?! Still, if it stays like this solstice to solstice, there’ll be nothing else my people got to get them open. No more ill changes like lyrical duels of the mind, stories of fallen angels or the metamorphosis of kings into sons of the most high. Lately, it seems like the Wisemen are of the few to heed the final call to keep this Art to the lean-not traditional rap-just Hardcore Hip Hop. Far more than a wet pen moistening a glittered scroll but a liquid sword through the mind that dies ageless.
So to Die Ageless, Kevlaar 7 has the intention to leave a poignant work that lasts. The audacity in that daring is achieved with a very carefully crafted debut that loudly yells a wakeup call to our people as one of its sufferahs. As the first Wisemen solo album to be released not from Bronze Nazareth, it also makes the Wisemen movement official, a movement that prospers from its extraordinary talents as it is also hurt by its lack of proper coverage.
The Wisemen are the Hip Hop ghetto dwelling Blues builders, reppin’ Detroit and they are their own entity. Due to the Bronze Nazareth being named a Wu-Element producer by the RZA, their a-likeness to the Wu-Tang is acknowledged. However, unlike the immediate Wu-Fam generation, not one Wisemen-affiliated album has ever been officially produced, executive produced, presented or even overseen by RZA or Wu-Tang Clan. Yet, it is the Wisemen that have mirrored the spirit of the Wu the most as they have elevated street lyricism and beat making uniquely. They have earned everything making and growing their albums from the beginning.
Die Ageless becomes an ideal representation of this as throughout he displays a complete portfolio of his many developing techniques and varied sounds they have been prospering with since their last collective effort in 2010, Children of a Lesser God. This isn’t the exhaustive debut of all that an MC has left but literally a long sampler of how diverse Kevlaar is and where his growth will take place. Kevlaar’s themes are his most powerful gift as an MC, where he constantly rhymes verse after verse as a soldier in the field taking shots at the fakes, snakes and devils, always showing you his wounds. His stories suffer setbacks that push us all back (“Solstice,” “Fallen Angel”) and yet line after line there is exposed artistry that paints for us the “beautiful nightmare” he triumphantly comes out of (“Sons of the Most High, genuine article/ blow apart my crown, you better cop a particle/ turn a page/ autobiographical stage/ raw realness/ my soul speak in the zenith…” – “Sons of the Most High”).
The cornerstone songs (“I’m Open,” “My People”) of the album that call out to our Black and Brown people suffering are sincerely delivered and simply stated (“We was built from grains of sand, born from the base of pyramid lands, it was never in our plans/we caught in a concrete war/gun stores and liquor on all corners…My people, let’s learn confederate flags burn/My people, let’s uplift, knowledge of self’s the gift” – “My People”) setting up the sculpted scrolls that close the album (“Now,” “Final Call”). Yet before Die Ageless’ closing, we have that complete package portfolio to bang out too.
Sonically, this is obsessive Boom Bap where the Blues, that tone of soulful warring in song, that every Wiseman release has furthered, becomes a unique sound for Kevlaar. While the aforementioned cornerstone songs are slow tempo, hand clap, soul grinders, the majority of the production (most by Bronze), bangs breaks and snares and is arranged to drum stutter and roll to refresh and recharge each verse. The arranging exposes the real time taken on this album as they catch Sha Stimuli perfect on the snare on the Kevlaar produced “Sons of the Most High,” Bugsy da God’s verse on Bronze’s “Famine O’Clock” rolls and cymbal crashes him into his smooth, up tempo flow or the conga tumbao and lady wail on “We Gon Make It” from Central Intelligence that seems inspired by a monk out of Sabu’s Afro Temple.
As an MC, there is a major technique displayed dominantly on so many songs. We can shift from the rugged stream of conscious phrasing of “Kings,” (“I bleed a hard road to follow, swallowing shadows/ the past left me hollow, xylophone sutra.."), the metaphor of female gaming extended on “Losing Hand Gamble,” the build on the corruptive legacy behind money (“Federal Reserve Note”) or the rapid fire battle beasting on “The Lean” (“…Compose notes from hunger and bungalows and froze deserts with blessings from natives/originating the making of molecules/ consume melodic skills/ and robbed and killed Emmett Till’s killer’s spirits on bleeding hills…”). All to include one of the most beautifully soulful and poetically mastered Hip Hop songs in years with “Someday.” Here Bronze’s lead verse is guided by a long held churched organ note and vaulted by the precise beat crescendo. The verse is pure poetry that is literally greatness relived as Kevlaar shadows the verse with his own that is identical in rhyme structure, theme and both are at the same exact bar for the summative line (“when Granddad died I felt a little less alive” – Bronze, “when Tyler died I cried and felt less alive” – Kevlaar). June Megalodon’s binding bars in the center will become another of those wonderful subtleties to explore that the Wisemen work offers.
Die Ageless will live as such because it is the work of a writer with heavenly thoughts, right out of hell. As the album closes with “Now,” Woodenchainz gives a straight Blues belly with that ol’ guitar plucking coupled by an elegant piano touch and a sharp swishing snare. This Blues literally adapts to Hip Hop before our ears as the drum stutter reloads it ready for some of Kevlaar’s best verses, if not his most summative of the entire work. Lacing three verses from the hell he is fighting through (“I’m a descendant of masters raping slaves…navigating on elevated thinking, swing my fists... ) to embracing the knowledge of self and getting the fatigues on (“ink from my pen bleeds, blink some, my pen falls asleep, deep history, Peep the Black sand ministry/modest man dealt an honest hand, awaken my inner mystery…”) he eventually works to march us into victory (“But we survivors from Black bottom to the top of the mind cuz we accomplish plans of Sudans and yachts, exotic amounts, we open business accounts, no losses, just ain’t hit the Forbes yet,..Today begins forever…”). Hard work done, Die Ageless will be key to the Wisemen movement that innovated Hip Hop music in its fourth decade of industry warfare. It’s also another great, honorable work in music for the people.