Back in high school I recall having a conversation about rap music with my father. He always complained that he could never understand the majority of the lyrics, and the lyrics he could decipher were filthy and not for the ears of my mother. I, of course, took exception and sought to prove him wrong and printed out lyrics from two songs. Allow me to reiterate the time frame … high school … early 2000′s or late 90′s … puberty. I’ll be the first to admit of my life-and rap-ignorance during these times. Which is evident in the fact that the two songs I printed out weren’t the best examples to try and sway my dad to the dark side of rap. One was a Method Man song, something from Tical 2000 and the other was a song off of a DJ Clue mixtape. So I pretty much dropped the ball on the conversion.
Fast forward to today. I have a rap blog. Which, in 2012 terms means I’m gainfully unemployed. But more importantly, this shit-house of self-deprecating and false senses of superiority has helped me explore sub-genres that I would never have given a try in the past. That, and my overall maturity as a human, has gravitated me towards music with more of a message and actual lyrics with actual meanings. Also, I’ve finally been able to appreciate music that I can relate to, instead of music I just like the sound of. Admittedly, this is never the end-all-be-all prerequisite to liking music, but it’s something I never paid any attention to as a pimple faced-youth who rocked out to “More Money, More Cash, More Hoes,” the remixed version of the original from The Corrupter Soundtrack. The following is my trip through music, in my modern day taste, appeals to both the old me and the current self-righteous me.
Now that my memoirs are out of the way, let’s wrap this run-on segue up. B. Dolan, a fellow bearded Rhode Islander, was nice enough to send me his forthcoming mixtape, House of Bees vol. 2, for a test drive. The first glimpse from this mixtape we were able to shed our ears, and eyes, on was the posse-cut-and-lyrical-middle-finger-to-the-ruling-class track, “Film the Police.” This music video was integrated into my Intro to Sociology (honors, son) concept presentation. My concept was socialism, and I used the footage from “Film the Police” to contrast socialist nations with our fine nation, which is supposedly a capitalist-democracy. Here is a terrible covert, low resolution shot I took while boasting about meaningful rap music:
If you must know, I got an A on the presentation. Because I’m a boss when it comes to being the oldest guy in class and acing projects that utilize my sweet PowerPoint skill set.
The next bit of leakage from House of Bees Vol. 2 was “Still Here,” which dropped a couple weeks back on the Strange Famous Soundcloud page. Press play below if you missed it.
“Still Here,” as described by B. himself, is the album’s mission statement. B. lost his father to the cunt that is cancer in 2010 and “Still Here” reveals his travels though rap and life during the tumultuous time. As someone who has a father in the midst of radiation treatments for that same cunt of a disease, the track hits home.
On more of a lighter note, B. Dolan and his fellow bearded-Ocean-State-bred partner in rhyme, Sage Francis, join up to make “2BAD” under the moniker of Epic Beard Men. Check the video for this in-your-face rap ballad, which uses one of the best Ghostface Killah lines.
The video may showcase Sage and Brother B. Dolan’s poor spelling-whilst-spray-painting, but aside from that it’s a fresh video and a real dope song. That GFK line is looped into the hook with cuts over a beat by B. Dolan and Reanimator. The premise of the song is based on all the terrible human beings that try to hone their craft as artists and fail under their own ego. Much like the direction The Echo Chamber Blog is headed. My favorite line is from Uncle Sage; “I’m not wasting my time pushing my CD to stores, I’m too busy convincing people not to buy yours …” Some powerful words, hyperbole aside, as it speaks to the utter bullshit artists see from the inside that us fans are naive to. Too bad you fucked up, dummies.
The album doesn’t have a normal mixtape vibe. Thankfully. I’ve been vocal in the past about my disdain for mixtapes, especially when they’re sold for the same price as albums even though the work is either phoned in, sometimes literally, or it’s just bits and pieces that were deemed not good enough for previous albums. Plus, there’s almost never any fucking-god-damned mixing involved. Not to mention it’s not a tape. It’s an MP3. Ya herb. In the case of House of Bees Volume II, it was made just like a regular album would be made, with the best material available and as a project of sorts. Buddy Peace is responsible for a lot of the production as well as, wait for it, mixing and or re-mixing.
In mixtape fashion, there is are remixed versions of songs found on other albums. “Bad Things” from Metermaids Rooftop Shake, for example, is included but with a new twist from Sir Buddy Peace. “Come to Jamaica,” which is a lost verse from “Earthmovers,” is of the cutting room floor mold but it’s presented with an updated beat from the original song and elongated chorus. There is also a remixed version of “The Hunter” and a live-recorded version of “Leaving NY,” both originally off of B. Dolan’s Fallen House Sunken City LP.
Another mixtape must have is some “freestyling” over industry beats. B. Dolan decided to go another route. “100 Bars,” which is on some old school rapper shit, B. Dolan just spits bars to different backdrops from the Strange Famous catalog. It ends up being a powerful journey into the mind of B. Dolan in just straight lyrical form. It’s 5:00 minutes of pure “what the fuck?” As in, what the fuck is wrong with this place. This track is available for your ears to get fucked to below.
My favorite track is “Tin Soldiers.” A moving song that covers a couple lyrics from the Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young song “Ohio” as the hook. Much like “Ohio,” the mood on “Tin Soldiers” is that of angst and words from the heart on a topic that a lot of Americans find taboo. As someone who is 100% anti-military, this track falls on honed-in ears. In California, where I hail, I see veterans everyday panhandling. “Tin Soldiers” touches on the homeless problems and financial burdens of returning veterans. Obviously it’s not for everyone, especially not the politically indifferent. Also known as the apathetic and idiotic.
There are many politically infused messages in House of Bees Volume II. But I wouldn’t expect anything less from B. Dolan, especially this late into his rapping career. Progressive rap gets a bad rap from those who keep chasing the boom-bap days. But the fine folks at Strange Famous Records have proven on many occasion that it’s not impossible to sound dope musically while still speaking on topics that matter. Bob Dylan made it acceptable to write songs that push the envelope. Such things have fallen by the wayside since it’s not a popular decision. And the sheep that buy music continue to support fuckery, wratchetness, misogyny, and homophobia.
B. Dolan makes two references on this album that I never thought I’d hear in a rap song in my lifetime. He calls out people who hide behind the word “faggot” and says he stands up with the LGBT community. There is never any excuse to use “fag” in your vernacular, but if you’re well outside of high school and continue to do so, you should work out whatever deep rooted issues you have with your mom. Then grow the fuck up. For real. Putting my personal feelings upfront on TECB isn’t anything new, but finding an album that jives with many of the things I feel strongly about, all while being nothing less than pure hip-hop, is pretty rare these days.
A close friend once told me; “You have opinions on Twitter. Don’t confuse your opinions as smarts. Idiot.” Which I took as, “your opinions threaten me and I don’t have much original thought, other than anger and jealousy.” So kids, if you learn anything from TECB and B. Dolan today, it is to speak your mind. And the rest will follow. Be color (or sexual orientation and preference) blind. Don’t be so shallow. Peace to En Vogue.
The release date for House of Bees Volume 2 is June 12th, but feel free to pre-order over at StangeFamous.com. It’s only $9.99. Or a little more if you’d like B.’s Herbie Hancock with it.
Filed under: 401 Gettin' It Done, Album Talk/Review, Hip-Hop, Music Tagged: | B. Dolan, Buddy Peace, Film The Police, House of Bees Vol II, House of Bees Volume II, Sage Francis, Strange Famous Records, The Metermaids