Perhaps the best hip-hop album you'll hear all year
, October 24, 2007
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At only the seven-month mark of the year, I feel very comfortable hailing "Bayani" as one of the best hip-hop albums of 2007. If you haven't yet discovered the prowess of Geologic (rhymes), and Sabzi (beats), let me be the first to tell you that you are missing out. The bond between the two is inseparable. They create a unity that is often rightly compared to that of Pete Rock & C.L. Smooth, or DJ Premier & The Guru. That sounds far-fetched, but these two really have all the tools, passion, and soul to live up to these legends.
The Blue Scholars bring their strongest work to the table for their most anticipated album of their still-growing career - "Bayani". Geologic stepped up his rhymes from the last two albums nicely. His lyrics are more focused and concise than before. It's pure poetry filled with some of the most outstanding political and socially consciousness in hip-hop today. He is arguably the most intelligent protest rapper to come along in the past 5 years. But on the other hand, as track 5 exemplifies, they are just "Ordinary Guys". The statements made aren't overtly political, and can be respected by most anyone besides your right wing extremists.
Sabzi has also really grown over the course of the last 2 albums. His production is jammed packed with ideas just as fresh as Geologic's rhymes. I have always loved Sabzi's production, as it's always been very soulful and unique from the norm, even in underground circles. He's nearly today's equivalent of DJ Premier. His timing is ridiculously on-point, and it seems his soundscapes have their very own stream of consciousness. He brings a lot of emotion to the table with only the beats, it makes the album feel that much more personal. All the production is kept in-house, and handled by Sabzi, which is nearly unheard of nowadays.
The Blue Scholars have been one of my favorite groups since I saw them perform live with Zion I in Minneapolis right after the "Long March EP" was released (also essential material!). Their live show still stands as one of my favorite hip-hop shows I have ever seen (and I've seen close to 60). The duo was so tight together; Sabzi would even do the back-up vocals to all their songs. Their unity was, and still is just incredible.
Overall, The Blue Scholars have created an album that will stand the test of time. It's also incredible that after only two underground releases under their belt, that "Bayani" was picked up by Rawkus Records. The quality of the record can only heighten their respect as they are finally getting a shot at some major distribution. The Blue Scholars have been blowing up from day one, and they will continue to do so. Be sure to peep out what may be the best hip-hop album of 2007.