Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Quick Hitters:: Blue Scholars & Common Market

Seattle producer Sabzi is a mighty busy man. Not only did he win last year's Red Bull Big Tune National Final (don't worry, I didn't have any idea what this was either - it's essentially the beatmaker championships), but he's been putting in hella work for both his original group Blue Scholars, and his side project Common Market. We received new EPs from both groups over the last couple weeks, so I figured I'd give them both some coverage, quick hitters style.

Before going any further, I should mention that not only is Sabzi a hard worker, but he is really an amazing producer (watch this for a little taste of what I mean, the talk box! Dope!). On more than one occasion I've been zoned out with my iPod on the shuffle when I've been shook out of my work or bus stupor and thought "this is an awesome song, who is this?", and it's turned out to be a song from Blue Scholars debut full length, Bayani. One such song is the beautiful Loyalty, which first caught my ear because it uses a slowed-down version of the same vocal sample on Foreign Exchanges' All That You Are, I song I enjoyed. Well Loyalty makes another appearance on the Scholars new digital EP Butter&Gun$, along with two other new songs (Loyalty II which is a complete re-work of the original, and the wonderfully reflective 27) and instrumental versions of all three.

But Blue Scholars is a two-man endeavor, and I don't mean to be selling Sabzi's partner Geologic short here - he's a big part of why I liked Bayani so much. The Scholars are often referred to as "conscious rap", but that moniker has a bit of stink attached to it for some reason, and no one really wants that label attached to their music. Quite simply I think Geologic writes lyrics that any regular person with a heart and conscience can relate to. It certainly doesn't hurt that he's also a very talented MC that can draw you in no matter what subject he's covering. That's certainly true on this EP, so if you're unfamiliar with Blue Scholars, this would serve as an excellent intro.

Common Market combines Sabzi's excellent beats with the solid, socially aware lyrics of Seattle MC RA Scion. These two got together in 2004 to release their debut self-titled EP, and are releasing their second, Black Patch War on May 20th. Despite being familiar with Blue Scholars, I hadn't heard Common Market before, but this EP is really great stuff. The title track finds Scion dropping a vivid first-person narrative about the early 20th century farmers rebellion in Western Kentucky that the album is named for. You know, that old hip hop goto. I kid of course, as this is far from your average subject matter, and it's a tribute to Scion's ability that he's able to make a song with subject matter so alien to most people as interesting as it is.

I don't want to leave the impression this EP is strictly a history lesson though. Scion explores the history of the place he's from to help explain his current situation and life view, which he shares on songs like Oldham Era, His Eminence, and Watership Down. Sabzi's beats are certainly on point as well, matching Scion's contemplative mood with clanging drums and pitch-shifted soul samples on Watership Down and the organs on Trouble Is are a great companion for the alternating double-time, sing-song flow Scion uses. Really have to stress how impressed I am with Common Market, I'd encourage anyone on the hunt for quality new hop hop to check them out.

For that matter check out Massline Media in general to get these two releases and more. Looks like anyone worried about the status of Seattle hip hop can rest assured it's in good hands right now (the urge to make a Mix-A-Lot crack here was high, but I passed on the opportunity - bully for me.)

Video:: Blue Scholars - Loyalty

Blue Scholars "Loyalty" Music Video from Zia Mohajerjasbi on Vimeo.

Posted at 9:55 AM by naedoo :: 0 comments

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