Genre: Socially Conscious Hip-Hop
To someone without much knowledge about hip-hop, there’s two kinds of it. There’s hip-hop that boasts money, sex, and drugs, and then there’s hip-hop that matters. Devine Carama’s No Child Left Behind falls gracefully into the latter category – seeking to remove itself from a genre that indulges itself in material possessions, and to establish itself as one that seeks social change and cultural awareness. Devine himeslf says that NCLB is “an open letter to an 8th grade middle school class” and “inner city teens struggling to navigate their way through this world with limited guidance, opportunities, and foggy mirrors as best.” Aside from rhymes that preach the under-heard gospel of social change, the album is sonically different from a lot of hip-hop I’ve heard. Much like Fidel Hasflow’s LoFidel, which celebrated samples and old-school hip-hop production, Devine Carama employs sounds that sound fresh because of their retrospective flavor – some tracks from LoFidel can be heard over the course of the album, and it’s no coincidence that these are also some of the best sounding. All this said, the whole album sounds excellent and fresh – Devine has come up with some meaningfully sharp rhymes and knows how to lay them down, and his producers have made some creative and catchy tracks for him to plant them on. At a time in my life that I’ve been asking myself why the world hasn’t moved past racial struggles, Devine Carama takes it a step further and provides some answers.
Tracks I Liked? No Child Left Behind!!, ’13 Til Infinity!!!, Stars!!!, Willie Lynch Me!, Dead Man Walking!!, Light Switch Flow!!, A Deadbeat’s Karma!, We Are (Kings and Queens)!!!, Voices From the Grave!!
Ben Southworth – July 16th, 2013 – Lexington, Kentucky
I’d be lying to say that I know a lot about hip-hop, but I got lucky on this album – it’s a very well done project that should be easy for anyone to digest and enjoy. Abundant with samples, Fidel starts off the whole album with a sample about radios, and throughout the album – whether about Colt 45’s, production of vinyl, or just the repeated “Fidel” that is found on many songs – the vocal samples are all used well. When it comes to the music, Fidel’s job at Lexington’s vinyl shop The Album is obvious, as many of the sampled bits sound like they came straight off vinyl. With the crackle of old wax preserved, LoFidel does a great job of taking you away from the current world of overly-digitized music, and replaces it with good-feeling samples through an analog production. For an album of this sort, it has remarkable cohesion – something that many albums in the genre lack. Like I said, even if you’re not into this type of music, it’s a highly accessible album that deserves a listen, or several.
Tracks I Liked: Crash Landing!!, Back Trapper!!, Analog Astronaut!, Plush Leather!!, Mellow Psychosis!!! (My favorite), Right Timing, The Reazon!, Recognize!, Halo Hands!!! (Also awesome), All of Us!!
Check it Out:
– Ben Southworth