There’s the thing about rap – rap; not the inaudible ramblings that pass for it these days – it has power. Power; in that words that may or may not hold much significance individually become a pledge, an oath, a promise, a threat – whatever the wordsmith intended the listener to feel, when strung together in a witty and interesting way.
And, in the immortal words of Uncle Ben, or Stan Lee, as the case may be –
With great power –
You know the rest.
Psalmurai is a rapper cut from the same cloth that birthed folks like Nas, Killah Priest, Mode9, KRS ONE and a few others. An understanding that words hold power, and therefore wordsmiths hold a responsibility to their listeners. If you’ve ever listened to anything this MC put out, the first thing that strikes you is how serious he takes his craft.
Starting out as a member of The Kalifate; now rebranded as The Brand, Psalmurai has been putting out solo work for a minute. From the critically acclaimed mixtape Grind Finale to the consistent yearly Wrap Up series (dropping since 2006) listeners have come to expect pure rhymes from this young MC.
And he’s yet to disappoint.
Continuing the pattern of consistency is the latest entry in his catalogue; BLTN an acronym which stands for Better Late Than Never. Seven tracks long, tanking at twenty-six minutes, the tape is produced by MHP, a South-Africa based producer. On the first two tracks, MHP’s XYZ (super-producer, best known for his collaborative album with the great Mode9) influence is apparent – but MHP takes it a notch higher by taking the sound and making it distinctively his. Psalmurai’s bars are sharp and nimble as ever, as he spits on the opening track Dusk To Dawn;
Now do I gotta say I’m from the projects?
Or the ghetto in the beast like the Loch Ness?
Chick in stilettos selling sex for a lot less
Sex-working or walking around jobless
But God bless
Not my defense but offence
I’m breaking down the metal gates and the tall fence
Got nothing but smart men in my circumference
And I got what it takes to excite your girlfriend
The feel of the project is introspective; he’s getting on the title track BLTN he goes;
My resolve; praise the Lord God daily
RIP to the late great Marcus Garvey
Who gave you the right, the robe and gravel to judge
We all equal under God and gravel nigga that’s deep
Six feet precisely
And then….he goes on further:
Better late than sorry
I’ll rather say never
Instead of sounding stupid
I’d rather sound clever
But if I sound stupid to make a point
The wise can play the fool but –
Not vice versa
He aight – what is missing is the essence
The new school cool – what is missing is the lessons
I want Kalifa high, DJ Khaled blessings
But before God bless us – first He gon’ test us
There’s a confidence in Psalmurai’s delivery; he’s basically a ronin walking down a familiar path. For old listeners, it’s a known journey, for new listeners it’s a proper introduction. On Django, he’s does a bit of battling – all the time reminding his audience of his authenticity. And then, the tape kind of switches to the b-side, which has Psalmurai dabbling with some issues and storytelling.
On Single, he balances rhyming with objectivity about the pressure the sexes go through:
She got it, yeah yeah she got it
Front to back she got – she a goddess
Mulatto got me hooked to be honest
She fine you cannot be fine beyond this
More stairs no; skyscraper
Oh boy! She’s been single for the longest
Like a thousand men, trying to date her
Makes it hard to pick and choose who the one is
She fine; ah-yeah yeah she the finest
Broke niggas too broke for her highness
Rich not rich enough for her highness
That is not the facts now let me digress
Rhymes like that is what is missing from rap these days; thought-provoking, challenging and memorable words. Words that create pictures that linger in the mind – long after the record has stopped spinning.
NHICT (No Heroes In Capetown) is the story of the search for greener pastures; a story that ends sourly for our lead character, Johnny who falls victim to Xenophobia.
Traveler is a chronicle of Psalm’s journey; how far he’s come and how he moves in his mind. Maka drops a stirring hook that makes me feel as though they need to collaborate more. Posse Cut has a number of rappers dropping bars that, while lackluster in points, are strong enough to round off the project.
BLTN is a strong entry into a genre that is going through an evolution; recreating itself for an audience with less and less of an attention span. I believe in Psalmurai.
And if you enjoy rap, you should too.
Visit: https://soundcloud.com/psalmurai to listen to and download BLTN.