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.
Exposit: A Look Into A Spoken Word Poet’s Imagination
In a time when local identity has almost become a forgotten phenomenon; children have traditional names they do not know the meaning of and speak a language that has no tie to their country, a tribal voice might be a necessity. Something; or someone to remind us who we are and where we’re from.
Enter Adebola Afolabi or, at least for the purpose of this piece, RezThaPoet.
Being one of the frequenters of WAPI – a now-defunct initiative by the British Council, I am familiar with Rez’s work first-hand. Around that time it seemed as though spoken word was experiencing resurgence, with Sage Hasson gracing interviews with Sound City, hanging out with the lyricist Mode 9 and Plumbline shooting highly acclaimed videos for his pieces. But then, with the disappearance of WAPI also went some of these enthusiasts – at least, from ‘public eye’.
Enter Taruwa, another space for these word-aficionados to wield their craft and for a while, Rez also performed there but it seemed more like the paroxysm of a dying animal as opposed to a purposeful action with an end in sight.
Suddenly, word on the ‘street’ was that Rez is recording a spoken word album.
Careful digging revealed that indeed, on the 25th of July, Rez released a spoken word album titled Exposit Deluxe Edition. I purchased a copy of the album via his website, downloaded it and settled to listen.
First single from Rez: I AM
Exposit Deluxe Edition opens with an ‘Introlude, Greed’ that takes into account the narrator’s perspective of something happening at a party. It appears as though, after observing a guest for a while, he cannot hold himself anymore and exclaims; ‘Na greed! I tell you, na greed!” Another ‘guest’ berates the narrator for not minding his business – and the track segues into another one; Awoof, continuing the theme of the intro. This time, Rez tells the story of several characters, how they fall prey to greed in varying circumstances and the consequences of their actions, reinforced with the repeated theme; “Awoof dey run belle!’
It’s a Nigerian term – but the applications are worldwide.
The first thing to note about Exposit/Rez is how liberally he colors his pieces with Nigerian slangs and terminologies. Sometimes, it seems as though he neglects his foreign crowd, so painstakingly earned by touring in Paris, South Africa, Namibia and so on, but the constant use of English sort of brings the narrative home. Germaine is a somewhat-regretful ode to friendships turned sour because of miscommunication and assumptions and growing apart. Asake is the ballad of love and romance; and this is the arena in which Rez flexes his writing/reciting muscles, weaving through native and contemporary expressions in a bid to capture the elusive Asake, the object of his affection/attention.
The Future is the definitive track by which I sum my experience listening to Exposit; introspective, bragging, confident, fearless. Rez’s vocals are accompanied by a haunting flute that does much to capture the calmness of the piece. Lines like ‘the future is coming for you/head-on collision/hear the sounds – as/the future is humming for you/the stars/galaxies and the universe – all turning for you/so all you need to do, olo mi (my love)/is to respect time and soon the world/shall revel in your sunshine/” puts into perspective the hopes, dreams and aspirations of a love one which could be anyone of us. The Future is clear in its message but leaves itself open to multiple interpretations; a message of hope in one’s dreams or a romantic ode to the object of one’s desire.
Lloffa is a sweeping track on greed and conflict with footnotes in history while One and The Same, the second single features a Sikiru Ayinde Barrister sample of the refrain ‘Omo Nigeria e je ka ronu jinle’ meaning ‘O Nigerians let us think deeply’.
All through the album, reference is made to Rez’s linage and traditional roots. All of these come to a head in the opus, first single and ironically last track I Am. Rez’s braggadocio is at its most evident here, reminding the listener of his royal ancestry and traditional background amidst a simple instrumental that leaves enough space for vocal flexing. It’s too easy to imagine Nas on the same beat.
While Rez’s writing is almost impeccable, his delivery is somewhat hesitant on a number of tracks, as though questioning his narrative or the potency of his pronunciation of certain words. However, Stormatique’s accompanying jazz riffs makes this most indiscernible and makes the listening experience a sweet one all by itself.
It’s a fitting way to begin what many hope will be a really long career – a long and illustrious career.
Good morning, good people!
You got the book. Now peep the EP!
Performed by The Psalmurai, Love Drops EP is an interesting adventure down a soundscape – multiple ideas and concepts about love – or lack of it.
Anyways, no long tin. Peep the EP cover – and then download the music after the jump!
PS: Due to the nature of Soundcloud, you will have to download the tracks one after the other – as opposed to downloading one file. Hope you don’t mind – thank you!
Have a great week!