Monday, 14 October 2013

Nosetalgia (My Name is My Name, Track #10), Pusha T ft. Kendrick Lamar - The Review

...this is timeless, simply 'cos it's honest

Two dope emcees illustrate the dope game from the perspectives of a dealer and a washed up dealer's son.

The Concept
Cocaine, coke, crack, dope.

It's a fact of life in the hood.

Who better to speak on it than Pusha T, a former dope boy who still celebrates (and always has since appearing on the hip hop scene) his association with the dope game, and Kendrick Lamar, a young man grown up around the dope (in his very house it seems) but doing his best to take the other road (a personal anti-drug use stance).

Oh and a dope beat from Nottz.

The Characters, The Cast, and their Craft
Pusha T delivers an honest verse as a successful drug dealer, both as a happy go lucky young kid at school and a happy living, stressed out unrepentant adult, faced at any moment with impending death.

Lamar takes up the role of a washed up drug dealer's son, with an auntie who's hooked on the dope.He also briefly switches into the character of his washed up drug dealer dad.

As for the craft, suffice it to say, they both spit pure honest fire!

The Story
Pusha T uses the imagery of baby powder and nappy rash to clue us in on how early in his life he was introduced to the dope game. He goes on to detail his life as the big man pushing dope at school, getting girls, and generally just living it up. A doctor easing the pain of the hood with his drugs. 
And then as a grown man the stakes are far higher, with death such a frequent occurrence that the only response it evokes is a tattoo of the dead man's name, a bigger chain?, and a redistribution of the dead man's assets - including his girl.

Kendrick Lamar enters the scene with a continuation of the death theme, asking; "you wanna see a dead body?" He then proceeds to detail how the crime and stress involved in the dope game affects a dealer's family. With his auntie hooked, his younger brother crying and he himself having nothing but trouble on his mind all the time. He goes on to speak on how, his dad starts every now and then to get high off his own supply, and resorts to underhand tactics to keep himself in the game but eventually loses it all.

Enter Kendrick as a young man to console his dad with promises of getting him a kilogramme of cocaine and thus making him a rich man however he decides to sell it. His dad is having no talk of his son doing cocaine though and wants to know the meaning of Kendrick's talking out the ass.

Kendrick then tells his dad that he raised him right and the dope he's talking about is himself.

The Resolution
It is easy for a good ear listening to the song as one story, to envision the young drug pushing Pusha T, from the first verse growing up into Kendrick's dad from the second verse.

And then the song becomes a powerful message of how, people in the hood should focus on improving themselves, or their children, and then their professions would become the new dope/cocaine that gets them rich.

The Verdict
The best example of how you can speak about the truth of your life, in a bad or good situation, and use it to inspire (subliminally or directly) your community.

Best song I've heard this year.

Friday, 11 October 2013

Unison (The Spheral #1), Eleni Papanou - The Review

The importance of Damon's purpose on Earth is such that even time must wait on him. Time seems to reset itself for him whenever he fails to fulfill any one of his life missions. But how many chances will he have? How soon before Earth and its inhabitants have to contend with the full implications of his failures?

The  Concept
Imagine if you could explain the idea of Reincarnation to make some type of scientific sense. Wouldn't that be so cool?

What if you could journey through several lifetimes with a person whose success in life is crucial to the survival of Earth and its galaxy.

The Writing
It at first seems as though Miss or Mrs. Eleni Papanou doesn't know what she's doing, and a big brained fellow is forced to wonder how she can be so confused and yet keep writing in such a linear and logical manner. But as you get deeper into the book, you are forced to recognize that she had  a well thought out plan all along.

So yeah it is not genius writing but it's far better than it seems.

The Story
At around year nine Damon bumps his head and realizes there's a channel in his head that allows him to tune in to the future (and maybe, the past too) sometimes. Along with this special gift comes an improved intellect which allows him to cross the normally uncrossable class boundaries, as well as making him slightly less susceptible to the dogma that keeps the colour-coded classes separate.

The coming to pass of one or two of his unpleasant visions makes him review the fast track lane to success he his on. Forcing him into direct confrontation with the leaders, principles and ideals of his society.

He sort of runs away and seems to enjoy a full life.

On his death however, he is sent back to relive his 'failed' life. Again and again until either time runs out on Earth (an actual possibility) or he gets it right.

The Critique
I am the first person to berate a fellow for claiming the personality traits, or choices, or character of a main character should influence the readability or essential-ness of his life story, but even I have to admit a little empathy for the main character is good for the enjoyment of a book story. And by the time I come to find out the reasons (some of them you have to describe as deeply subconscious-embedded for them to make any sense) for some of Damon's more out-there actions, I'd already written him off as some type of bad guy with a bunch of excuses.

In the end, Eleni does a great job of bringing together a story, that as early as page 100 and for long periods after, I'd already dismissed as impossible. But she leaves herself so much work to do that, it must have either overwhelmed her or she overwhelmed my mind. Either way, there're quite a few things that I frankly still don't believe can happen or could have happened. My mind quite simply just refuses to accept them.

The Resolution
In the end the The Six have to break the rules just so they can save not only the Earth, but its entire galaxy.

The Verdict
It's great mindfuckery, but it is not tight enough to make a mind say; that's the best I ever had.