Old heads beware because you’re about to feel a bit older…
ATLiens was a definitive album for my generation. For some, it may seem like yesterday that the album dropped, but it was 12 years ago. I was ten. There are a lot of cats, especially from the south, who were greatly influenced by the album. ATLiens paid homage to the things that make us southern (the drawl, the lac’s, the sould food) while breaking away from the musical barriers placed on southern acts.
And 3 Stacks was rockin’ fur sweater vests and polka dot zebra print pants.
That sort of individuality with one foot placed firmly in the southern lifestyle has led to a surge in rappers my age being totally left field with no inhibitions. Granted, this has led to a good bit of weird-for-weird’s sake cats coming with unnecessary technotronic sounds and an annoying 3000-influenced need to over-enunciate every syllable. All it takes though, is a little rummaging through the pretentiousness of some of these guys to really get to the artists that are taking risks and exploring the new limits of Hip-Hop.
Here are two entities making it happen:
These cats are from Atlanta, so I’m going to go out on a limb and say that they’ve listened to some Kast. What these guys have managed to do, though, is lace their tracks with some straight trunk rattling beats while allowing their lyrics to supply the craziness. Songs like “Be Different” and “Go Hard Or Go Home” use the standard 808 and heavy bass that can be found on a T.I. or Killer Mike track. However, the lyrical content provides a glance into the lives of misfits finding comfort in their chosen artform: “Having a dress game pitiful, originalâ€¦Inside of me was an organism/ twisting turning, smoking burning/ listening, learning/ then I thought about it when I woke up this morning/ right around when time stood still when I was burning/ something kinda green.”
The mostly crooned track “Weerdo” is a standout surrealist look at love-making with the hook asking “have you ever made love to a weirdo?” The singing voice is an acquired taste, but the song creeps into your subconscious in no time.
Mississippi ain’t exactly the Hip-Hop Mecca so it’s a steeper uphill climb for 7even:Thirty to be as original as he is. It’s as if every beat and bar is carefully constructed in a way that breaks expectations. For instance, the first full track from his LP Star: The 7even:Thirty Experience is entitled “Flesh-Eating Brane Kreature.” 7even:Thirty brilliantly uses this alien concept as a metaphor for rather everyman desires to succeed, placing an introspective look into his own hopes for his album: “I feel like I’m about to give birth/ cuz yo first album is yo baby so you sho’nuff/ make sure that baby go tough/ watch that baby grow up, hope that baby blow up.”
7even:Thirty has an amazing ability to maintain a strong Hip-Hop flavor throughout the album, keeping a his MC swagger: “I’m the type to rock a straightjacket just so I can have a permanent B-Boy stance.” In this era of simply whipping up a vocorder to add harmony, it’s refreshing to see an artist take some many vocal risks. True vocal experimentation is present in many of the songs. “Change the Station” sounds like five or six vastly different voices are singing with different vocal ranges and intermittent disorienting sounds, creating a captivating effect.
Both of these acts are pushing the limits of Hip-Hop. With the current cookie cutter landscape of the music being played on the radio, the fact that these cats are making a buzz gives me hope for the future of Hip-Hop.