TUESDAY, OCTOBER 30, 2007|
Usually on Saturdays, I’m doing one of two things: I’m on my way home to get ready for a night with friends or on my way home to relax with some good books and maybe watch some sports. This night it was the latter. So I left the library at around 7:00 pm and decided to walk home for the hell of it. It looks like I picked the right time (or wrong time depending on your perspective) to check out the new release from rapper Sole whose collaboration with the band Skyrider resulted in the titled mentioned above.
It became pretty apparent to me that this is a record meant to be listened to at night…alone. That’s the only way you’ll be able to take in the passionate, speedy and sometimes indecipherable lyrical delivery, the songs in which the band switches rhythms and melodies on a whim. But at the same time, the organized chaos of it all fell right in with me crossing the New York City streets….alone.
The track that initially made the biggest impression on me was “Nothing Is Free,” a song dominated by a reggae-like bass that included the lyrics “You can’t be 30 and still making hip hop.” Interesting line coming from a genre that’s seen a recent generational divide and received some public flogging in the past year. But all of the criticisms of rap & hip hop culture do not work for Sole & Co. Sole’s known to not rhyme any of his lyrics, which might seem like a betrayal of a basic hip hop aesthetic. The pushing of the envelope works here, because it challenges the listener to pay attention more to the lyrics instead of accepting what sounds good no matter the words. They could miss lines like Sole asking for a “Meteor to hit the media” or “They say the good die young/That’s why I die every two years/To be reborn!”
Some of what comes across on Sole & The Skyrider Band might be considered (paraphrasing the late Kurt Cobain) a vomit bag for Sole’s psyche. But music this intense, jagged, jumpy, jittery and abstract could only produce something like this.
When I finally made it home and sat down on the couch, I couldn’t move for a half an hour. Not because I was tired from walking, I was tired from walking and listening to this CD. It’s a very rewarding and worthwhile listen, but in order to fully appreciate it, you need to absorb this album at night…alone. - Stephon Johnson