That’s the first word you hear on the first track of this album. It has not been chosen at random.
Some words about the listener…
I’ve never really been a big hip-hop fan. Never been a disser either. I love what Tricky does, get a serious kick from artists such as Roots Manuva and really dig most of what Public Enemy or the Beastie Boys produced (Adam Yauch: my sincere respect goes to you, wherever you are).
I’m more of a 4/4 beats guy, love Underworld, the Chemical Brothers, James Holden, Spacer and many others I discovered by buying DJ vinyls. But I’m open minded, so I listen to ambient (Stars Of The Lid, Biosphere), classical music (Vivaldi, Dvorak, Arvo Pärt) and some other stuff (Radiohead, Tori Amos… Yep!).
As for hip-hop, I was never quite able to understand the genre: why constantly rapping about guns and female dogs? Why using those dull, cliché synth sounds that make it look like the music is being played by a one-handed, one-fingered Bontempi keyboardist? Don’t know, I was probably getting the wrong hip-hop at the wrong time and place…
… and back to The Impossebulls
A few weeks ago I decided I wanted to discover some seriously fresh stuff. Something not initially pushed by the marketing guys from the industry, but proposed by music lovers whose mission is to bring talents forwards. The Free Music Archive sounded like a good start.
It was like being slapped on the face by Ron Perlman and hearing him say: “Where the f*ck have you been?“. In just a few weeks, I discovered such diverse artists as Metastaz, Project Klangform, North Hive, Jazzafari… and Kellee Maize to name a few. These guys are the living proof that the future of music is on the net, CC-licensed for people to discover freely.
And then there was this album from The Impossebulls, which has been playing every day on my laptop for the last three weeks.
Let me put it this way. Last time I was violently shaken by an album was when I heard Radiohead’s “Kid A”. It wasn’t quite the same with this one: I was working on some Java code when I played this one on FMA and I suddenly noticed I actually had stopped typing. Didn’t even notice I stopped working. I unconsciously had switched to paying attention to the music AND to the poetry pouring out.
Who are these guys?
Each track is worth your time
Each single track is significant or works as the prologue or epilogue of a significant track (“Chapter III“, “The GetDown“, “September“). People, that’s not easy to pull out. How many times have you grabbed an album just to find out that 3/4th of it is barely listenable? Don’t make me quote ’em…
After the introductory “Chapter III” we get to “The Anthem of the Opening Act“, which gives the musical tone: it’s going to be soulful, it’s going to be funky and it’s going to be full of vinyl hiss and noise. You can almost pinpoint their influences on that music timeline. The prose is playful, but not meaningless: it’s going to be about hip-hop, about their vision of it, the way they make it and the way it impacted their existence. About the why’s and the how’s.
There’s also some serious turntables’ wizardry in there (“Runnin’ With The Bulls“). Wait a sec’ let me check who made this… Aha: Chuck D and Brother Mike Williams, DMC… Anyone must have, at the very least, heard of these guys! They’re not the only ones who contributed, though. Don’t know their work… yet! I need to check ’em out urgently…
“The GetBack” delivers on the soul, both musically and textually speaking. Listen to the song and you’ll get some answers on the “why’s“. It almost plays like a movie in your head! Then “The GetDown” is dropped, acting as a bridge between “The GetBack” and the “The GetUp“. This is when you start noticing the cohesion of the album. Listen to each track separately and you get a great experience. Listen to the album as a whole and it’s out-of-this-world: songs complete each other like the chapters of a great book. “August” and “September” are also a good example of this. And that first word you hear on the first track? It completes the sentence that ends the album.
“The GetBack” stuck into my head for a while, but “Bigger Than You” moves it up one notch: anthemic, epic, clever. This one is made to rally people. Ends up beautifully with this line that I absolutely love: “You woke at the top. I’m still in no spot. Don’t hand me your thing. I’m already king“. Amen!
“Road Warriors” is one of my personal favorites. The Supertramp sample (“Goodbye Stranger“) sets the tone, the prose tells the story. Isn’t hip-hop at its best when it tells a story? Once again, I can almost see the movie unraveling in my head. That’s quality storytelling alright.
And what about “HaveNots Mascot“: powerful, slightly distorted beats… It’s a military march where words and music have replaced guns and knives: “Give me the mike, and a reason…“. Reason? Maybe those racial issues which recurrently make the news’ headlines. “Music is pregnant with power to do a lot in the world” (whose quote is it?): it makes you wonder if some issues wouldn’t better be solved with music and words as weapons. “HaveNots Mascot“: a call to arms, without the guns? Definitely my favorite one from the album.
The Impossebulls can also be moving, as in “Erykah & Jean“: clearly aims at the heart. Beyond the fact that the refrain is catchy as hell, the song really talks to music lovers and the way they can end up putting music before friends and family. It is a moving and beautiful message delivered magnificently.
This is also the case with “The Breath I Got Left“. Some prose just sticks with you for days: simply put, it’s beautifully-phrased street poetry: words chosen with dignity.
I’m Ron Perlman
And by the way, did I mention the production quality is astounding? Did I mention that the album is sprinkled with recordings of MCs and artists telling us why they love hip-hop so much? And did I mention “August“, “Think About It“, “Breaker 1-2“…
By this time I guess you get my point.
I’m Ron Perlman and I’m telling you “Go get that f*ckin’ album“. It is CC-licensed, free for you to download and share as long as you don’t remix it or use it for commercial purposes.
The Impossebulls deserve to be known.
So let me quote the last track on the album (“When It Dies“) and tell you: I love hip-hop because it’s f*cking
BTW: so what’s with Ron Perlman I hear you ask? He’s cool as f*ck. That’s what 😉