Is there even a point to acknowledging an emcee for putting
out material that’s smarter and a lot more eclectic than the norm? I mean, the
so often grouped together De La and Roots Crew have been pushing this shit
for more than a decade. And with the resurrection of Common, and the successes of Talib, Lupe, Kanye, Mos Def,
and the like, this shit isn’t all that rare anymore. Enter The Rapademics, a re-release of the dope 2004 LP by Philly’s own Ohene (pronounced Ô-hen-ĕ).
Ohene takes what seems to be a
scientific approach to building the LP. Don’t worry, you’re not going to get a
lot of intellectual, scholastic imagery and shit that’s near impossible to
understand; that’s not what The
Rapademics is. What Ohene does
is provide a consistent and steady-themed record, on what makes a true emcee.
The opening, “Forword,” kicks this off by listing the real emcees in the game,
new school and old.
to the formula, we get tracks like “The Epitome (of Rap),” “3rd Bar Invention,”
“Rhymes 4.0,” and “Renaissance,” and you get the idea of how talented the dude
can be. Where critiquing (see: talking shit about) the current state of Hip Hop
and how pathetically simple the lot of it is, Ohene opts to lead by example, spitting some the most intricate and
sharply written bars this side of Common.
attention should be given to the man’s ability to tell a story. “The
Grandfather’s Paradox” is a narrative where Ohene travels back in time and accidentally fucks with his
grandparents hooking up, thus erasing his existence. “A Two Fold Tale” shows
off his creativity. Introducing the concept of Neo-Cubism, Ohene seamlessly blends two stories together so that one plays in
the left speaker and the other in the right. By telling two stories
(simultaneously) about meeting a man who forces him to re-evaluate his life, Ohene makes sure your rewind button
gets put to good use. As Lupe is
best known for today, and Slick throughout
history, O forces you to envision
his world via witty wordplay and a heartfelt imagination.
album standout is the genius that is “The Eraz of Flow.” Everyone loves to
rhyme over classic beats and say their paying homage, but this track takes that
idea and beats its brains in. In 93 seconds he laces together work from Run-DMC, Boogie Down Productions, De La,
Das EFX, Snoop, Naugthy By Nature, Jay-Z and Craig Mack (at least!) so tightly it’s almost hard to believe. Not
only does the production serve as a shrine, but the rhymes form a narrative
that is downright incredible. I usually don’t like saying shit like, “If you
don’t like this, you don’t like Hip Hop”, but fuck, if you don’t like this, you
don’t like Hip Hop.
while back, in my piece on Wade Waters,
I wrote, “It’s funny, once a upon a time we
praised the likes of Kanye, Roots Crew,
and Little Brother for being a ‘breath
of fresh air.’ I don’t think we can say that anymore. This is Hip Hop.”
And truth be told, I was about to say the exact same shit again before I
realized how stupid it’d be. The problem is that there’s so many great acts
putting out dope music that soul/funk/jazz/blues/rock infused Hip Hop is no
longer unqiue. But the more I think about it, that’s a pretty damn good problem