Marxism rarely finds a home in hip-hop albums these days (with the exception of Brooklyn militants Dead Prez and a few Anticon. MCs). But Seattle-based rising academic duo Blue Scholars isn’t afraid to dispel a poetic, highly politicized lyrical front that exceeds their comparisons to A Tribe Called Quest, Jurassic 5, and Gang Starr.
Set to release its sophomore long-player Bayani on the highly acclaimed Rawkus imprint (Mos Def, The Procussions), Blue Scholars has perfected its soulful, hard-hitting boom-bap styles. But Bayani is far from a simplistic backpack-friendly record for graff heads and suburban skaters. MC Geologic and DJ/producer Sabzi push lyrical and production boundaries to new heights, citing influences as dense as Aphex Twin and Marvin Gaye (a stellar concept, given the duo’s futuristic, yet soulful beats and provocative lyrics).
It’s been four years since the Scholars released their self-titled debut album, and it’s obvious the group has been impacted dramatically by the Iraq war and political tumult rising from the yet-to-be ousted American administration (tracks on Bayani range from topics of immigration to the WTO protests in Seattle).
In keeping with their political beliefs, Blue Scholars has set the tempo for a dynamic resurgence of conscious rap that transcends cheesy preaching and false insights. It’s about damn time.
Bayani is out June 12 on Rawkus.