(By way of a disclaimer, if you've yet to see the epic film 300 then the introduction to this review will make little to no sense to you.)
In the film 300 Leonidas and a Persian messenger have a rather heated conversation about choosing their words carefully. For those who know this scene it doesn't end well for the messenger at all.
But it gets me thinking about the words we use. As a writer I like to think that I use an excellent array of syllables to elucidate my eloquence.
(See what I did there?)
But I take a backseat to a duo of rappers whose description of themselves as "unapologetically deep" is so accurate that no disputes can be made to contrary without sounding stupid.
That duo is Barz Damu and TrailBlazzorMuzik, New GA artists the Fly Mind Poets.
Their latest offering to the sonic tableau is the compilation tape known as Nation Leakz.
The compilation album was, by their own admission, meant to be something of a throwaway. (Oddly enough, iBeast said the same thing about Cadillac Diaries). What it ended being was a soulful and in depth view into the unique purview of the two rappers.
Usually I would talk about a few tracks and leave at that. However this one requires a full analysis. So here we go.
"What Is NL?" is, for all intents and purposes, a history lesson masquerading as an intro. Here TrailBlazzorMuzik tells us how the Fly Mind Poets linked up with New GA, the release of the Fly Minds EP, the death of friend Quincy "Q" Suggs, and the music. He [Blazzor] goes on to tell us that Nation Leakz is the second step, the point where these two artists start showing us who they are both individually and as a duo while whetting our appetites for their solo projects.
"The Urgency" is next, produced by Jordeaux. It lulls you slightly before drum beats and the flow hits you almost immediately. This track shows two ambitious artists who are refusing to wait for success to come to them. They are recognizing the urgency of life, of fame and stepping out on their own skills in an attempt to race time. It's a sentiment that any and all of trying to do more can relate to.
A favorite track is "Scholarship Problems" featuring the always amazing iBeast. Originally meant for iBeast's Cadillac Diaries the track was added to the Nation Leakz because they [Fly Mind Poets] wanted 'the vibe' on the project.
And what a vibe it is.
Propelled by a jazz inspired horn section the production lends itself well to the three voices.
Lyrically speaking, the track speaks of advancing and learning. To me the title draws a parallel to the problems college students often have maintaining a scholarship and the things that we sometimes must sacrifice to keep that blessing as well as the growth it can supply.
This is reinforced by an amazing hook:
They say that Satan just need a vessel
The police just need a nigga
Excuse me for all of my wrongdoing
But I ain't finna let life make me a victim
Did some wrong to try to eat better
Stepped on some toes to move up a level
Not an OG, no thug life
Not a killer, nigga
I'm just a rebel
Being that I have previously spoken on "Genius Genes" as well as "ShoeBoxInTheClosetFlow" and "Motivational Speakerz", I won't say anything about them outside of reinforcing how amazing these tracks are. Anything further can be found in the links at the end of this article.
"Bounce" is another of those clever tracks that uses many different definitions to deliver in spades. The word, obviously, is 'bounce'. Blazzor plays well against a somewhat dark beat that shows both his absolute eloquence and the apparent creativity.
"Perfectly Mistaken" is a laid back and well crafted track. So much so that I won't trust my paltry words to touch it. What I will do I quote Barz when I asked him about it in our recent interview.
"The song is touching on how we can be so prideful in ourselves that we do not own up to our mistakes. On the other end of it, we get too hard on ourselves for making mistakes rather than moving forward with a healthy self worth and pride..."
What else needs to be said?
From there we move on to "Dwayne James”, which is, an interesting track. This is why is why: here we are given Barz and Blazzor rapping over an instrumental from Dom Kennedy's Yellow Album ("We Ball" featuring Kendrick Lamar). It surprises both artists that the track seems to be a favorite for many of the listeners to the tape. By his own admission, Blazzor isn't particularly fond of the track.
The next two tracks play like an introspective interlude to an already rather well put together tape.
"Rap Ramblin'" is unadulterated in its smoothness. Barz presents free associated over the beat, his delivery powerful but nowhere near a yell. Some of the subjects include being Southern born, crooked cops, and the lifting of one's consciousness.
"The Key" is another of those overly deep pieces that even my mind is dubious about touching on. So we allow a quote from my interview with the brothers to illuminate the brilliance on this one.
"I wrote it a capella. It was really a diary to self. Nothing more was expected. That was until I found a beat to match. (laughs). But it was basically an attempt to ground myself through my frustration of perceived limitation within myself. And eventually, at the end, I found the key to ease my restlessness. It’s like a literal meditation laid out for you to hear. This is the thought process I tend to have when I try to ease my frustrations in private..."
"Reminiscin'" is the next offering , an track of cool, horn heavy trip down memory lane. Hearing it takes me two places. One is towards my own Savannah born days while the other allows me access to the place Barz and Blazzor are taking us. Calii Dream comes through towards the end to deliver a great verse with his unique timbre.
"75" is the obligatory riding song from a Southern artist. From some artists this seems like a space filler or a contrived attempt to get a cheap pop on a lackluster project.
Blazzor adds himself to a lexicon, a pantheon of legends in a strong showing with his storytelling and epic flow as he waxes poetic about Atlanta's I-75.
"Trippin'" is, to me, introspection at its finest. We have all been visited by old habits and the ghosts of the things we once were. Things like that can make any man (or woman) trip out, especially with Barz 'riding around sipping on a cup of some of that something something'.
"Ignore-Rant" is clever wordplay on the title and, from what I can see and hear, a rant of sorts coupled with storytelling in a freefall format. It's played over a beat (produced by KlausePrime) that I cannot qualify or quantify particularly but it carries a nice effect. Maybe later on I'll gain some clairvoyance and another view on this one. Stay tuned.
"Self Centered" has an Caribbean sort of vibe to it. Here we are once again confronted with a title and a track that takes it in another direction. Immediately upon reading the title you get the negative connotation of arrogance or even being cocky. But no. What Blazzor is speaking of on this track is being centered within oneself, focused on growing and being something better. It's concepts and ideas like this throughout the tape that make it so special.
This next track is one of my favorites and a lesson in context.
The track is "Sink In".
If you were paying as much attention as I was when you dowloaded and/or bought Nation Leakz, you'll notice the similarities between this track and "What Is NL?". That's because it's the same beat, a cool something produced by Scientific). In the context of "What Is NL?" it's merely the backdrop to an eloquent explanation/history lesson..
But in this context?
It becomes an almost sensual track. To me as a music connoisseur I am reminded of 80s fare from artists like Barry White or Teddy Pendergrass. It's a smooth track that teases at double entendres through the repetition of the song's title. One can either take it to mean either allowing words to sink in or maybe sinking into the depths of a woman. Whichever you get, the track is a masterpiece.
"Goddess" and its production makes me think its producer Kelly Portis might be a music connoisseur such as myself. Sampling the Deniece Williams track "Free", this one is a poetic love song that Barz is happy to lay out for us. It's less about her looks but more about the intellectual aspect of loving someone. This is presented well and could be used on any romance movie soundtrack.
I'm about to stop here because by now you should be listening to this tape.
Because Barz and Blazzor are building the foundations of an empire. You need to be like me and support it.