Sunday, March 20, 2011

New review in Slant Magazine

Check out the new review for WHO GOT THE CAMERA? in Slant Magazine. Here's a sample:

The EP is densely packed with gritty, underground hip-hop scraped up from the Rust Belt, though its composite emotional energy occasionally transcends the boundaries of genre. At heart, it's a lyrical manifestation of the messages of Martin Luther King, Malcolm X, and modern minds like Michael Eric Dyson and Cornel West. Kevlaar delivers mounds of information, facts, and vivid imagery, but he does it through a purling flow of wordplay and rhymes that often become aphorisms. "Through my words, I'm trying to physically reach you," he says at one point, and we realize this record is an attempt at social change through musical telekinesis. There's a thoughtful sequence to it all as well: The somnolent strings that open the EP on "Empires" lead to expressions of incrementally increasing frustration that culminates in a "call for justice!" on the title track before settling with a somber, reflective conclusion on the last two songs.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Opening track: Empires

The album opens up with a smooth, somnolent soul beat playing as Dr. Cornel West speaks. The sound and tone of the beat seems to be representing the sleeping masses who are kept blind as their leaders cover the globe with the arms of their brutal empire. You can hear sirens, machine guns and bombs dropping all in the background. Over these sounds, Dr. West raises a question about the perplexing paradox overlying the American Empire.

As Kevlaar states on a track later on, this nation "uses theology as a gun" and wields these supposedly Christian morals to maintain order and control here while wreaking havoc abroad. Dr. West explains that our current empire is the remnant or legacy of the Roman Empire: the same empire that hung Jesus on the cross because he represented a threat to their authority. Jesus was a figure who tried to uplift a persecuted people within an overbearing empire. Now, today, we live in the modern Roman Empire which adopted the Constantinian Christianity (Christianity as it was accepted and legalized by the emperor Constantine) while going along persecuting "other folks, jews and others."

So Dr. West brings to light the eye-opening idea that, if we are to truly live a life imitating Christ, then it would be demanded of us to stand up to the authority of our oppressive empire. The same empire which aggressively preaches Christianity in the first place. This contradiction, as obvious as it seems, is not universally acknowledged and is actually sequestered in the phony conservative Christian community which continues to wield the power at the heart of this empire. This is a bit of a shock and maybe a sad, shitty realization because it's all the more obvious that so many people are in a daze, totally unaware of this.

And once this has been revealed, the music drifts a bit, taking a deeper tone and we hear the words "I see the little tears in your eyes about to fall" which will lead perfectly into the first song "Why Me (Tears)" and it all ends with the statement "This is how I feel," a great way to introduce this extremely outspoken album.

You will note also that the producer for this opening song is named Zakat. "Zakat" is actually one of the five pillars of Islam and it is the virtue of alms giving. There is a message in this and it is that this album is a gift, an inspiration of truth for listeners and for the poor and deprived because it is an outcry for those at the very bottom. Those that are, in the midst of this Empire, abused and unconsidered. They are also brutalized or murdered by the police or else left to rot in kill-or-be-killed environments whether it's in the streets or in the military (or prison). This is further explained in the album's Outro.

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Dr. Cornel West is a prominent public intellectual of color who frequently decries the evils of the American Empire and the plight of the black community in this country. He is currently a professor at Princeton University. Interestingly, when he was previously a professor at Harvard University, Dr. West was involved in a dispute with Harvard president Lawrence Summers and it became a whole big controversy. Summers was basically kicked out of Harvard because of the dispute with West as well as numerous shady financial connections. This is interesting because Summers, who served in the White House as Treasury Secretary, was one of the major slimeballs who knew of the impending American financial collapse and got rich because of it, as explained in the recent documentary movie Inside Job. You can read all about him here.

Dr. West's clear, eloquent brilliance is all over YouTube. I suggest you listen to what he has to say. He speaks the mothafuckin TRUTH.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Some new joints

This is the opening track to the album and, along with "I Have Dream", it's my favorite on the record. One of the best Bronze Nazareth beats I've heard in a while, its emotion is channeled perfectly by the three emcees that spit over it.

Zagnif Nori, who sets the track off here, has just released a new EP of his own entitled Insignia. It is a free album with a perfect combination of rugged beats and pinpoint sharp, intelligent/gritty darts and it really serves as a great companion piece to Who Got the Camera? so I highly recommend checking it out.

Here's a track from it called "Sparring Partners":

The other guest that appears on "Why Me (Tears)" is Shake C from the Indiana conglomerate known as Ironworkers Guild (I.W.G.) and here's a BANGIN' track that features another IWG emcee Science Born, Shake C, Kevlaar 7, and also Crucial the Guillotine a producer/emcee who provided most of the beats on the Insignia EP I mentioned. Check this out:

^produced by Woodenchainz (of IWG)

And last but not least, an emcee from the UK named Cyrus Malachi recently released a new single featuring the Wisemen (Kevlaar 7, Bronze, and June Megaladon). It's produced by Endemic who is also featured on Who Got the Camera?

Physical copies now available at Chambermusik

The Who Got the Camera? EP can now be purchased as a CD from And it's not some bootleg shit either. Available for $10 here.

Also, Sunez Rodriguez at the Lavoe Revolt blog has written a review of the album:
Kevlaar is a lyricist and his gift for the abstract artful brilliance, is contained here to detail the streets and oppressive bullshit as candidly as possible without sacrificing lyrical density.