Tuesday, June 14, 2011

REVIEW: June G. - Back 2 Da Hip Hop


By Aaron Asphar

I really love this record: personally I like negativity in music but this record makes you feel good without mocking real life, because it doesn’t hide from real life speaks through it, shames it, and makes better out of it. First song: "Intro" - a moment of sophisticated, transcendent artistic and old school sounds, something we find allot on his record. It rolls straight into Back 2 Da Hiphop featuring Rich Famous - the first I heard of June G., thanks to my friend SJ, and a real masterpiece. This track is driven by negative experience, memories, speaking the language of dark truths about life: but all this through a emotional, tribal, utopian kind of old school sound, this tribal cohesion, and a sense of rescuing themselves through this negativity, through themselves. Negativity becomes hip hop, which is to say emotional culture: it is lives on in the form of emotional intensity in the sound, but not forgetting real life where "niggas make sales only to go and make bail," all this just to "make their family eat well".

"Super Star" realizes itself through this kind of emotional culture, through a magma of sophisticated old/old school sounds, through which they realize these poetics of pleasure/hope/utopia, and by poetics I mean it echoes throughout the sound and lyrics: "Looking at these niggas I know I wanna be... young black and rich, we're gonna make you sick") – this kind of poetic cohesion emerges first by music driven by a need to express, rather than service the tastes of a market, so it comes from within outward making it cohesive right through, not just on the surface.

Came Up: this is dark, disorienting, sophisticated musicality: ambivalence echoed through in these drifting looped vocals buzzing around like confusing thoughts: "I ain't from 'round here" the lyrics go, and again this uncertainty is echoing right through the form. All in all it evokes for me the existential uncertainties of social life. Speak Ya Peace featuring Mr Forbes evokes something similar but through it confident robust vocals/lyric which gives it a sense of a poetic of survival/resistance. "Paid Dues" and "Life's a Bitch" featuring Mr Forbes - slick old school sound, none of it feeling old, speaking in dreams and money problems and coping through them: "I look at the sky sometimes only for guidance" - this captures the aesthetic of the song: and I really take note of that sense of having nothing but the sky to look up to. I think this speaks a deep truth of social life today and June G gives us a language for it. "Life's a bitch and then you die, that's why we get high, and you never know when you're gonna go": profane truth.

I love "X (Freestyle)" - really bold: drawing on this retro eighties aesthetic, this really strictured sound evokes a restricted/structured social life, the relatively mechanized rather than elastic/magma sounds evoking always for me work/labour/doing the right thing which the lyrics echo: then a gun, BANG: shoot the world with black songs, June G (black song = killer songs that are also true). Up against the Wall - another existentially discordant song but emotional/reflective rather than angst: coping with it through intelligent sound: and the sense of what makes this coping/striving compelling. "I'm just trying to live my dream, trying to put my Mama up where she can't be seen, I can't wait till she's gonna see me on the TV screen, doing what I love as I get this cream, until then I'm sitting here working, putting all these hours in I swear to god it’s worth it, giving what I have never giving up, I wonder when I'm down whose going to pick me up". This gains intensity from the way the previous song ended: because this song is all about striving for me. In You Never Know, featuring Nike Nando, we have a complex magma of sound, this time cohesive, evoking a social world of echoes and conversations, meanings, memories, complexity etc – and this evokes for me the quality of coping with life, a meaningful sense of life, so we get this range of emotional tensions in this work which really raises it to another level.

Finally, they don't cop out at the end. We have the dark, menacing, sinister Hip Hop's my Bitch as an outro: the song says to me that the record that just finished is not finished. It says 'to be continued' and a record like this says as much I’m more then pleased. June G is definitely one to look out for and bookmark: my favourite hiphop record this year hands down, Back 2 Da Hiphop (The Mixtape), available (?????)...

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