Y SOCIETY – Travel At Your Own Pace

Preliminary notes:

This is a hip hop post, but don’t forget our Annuals giveaway–check the swag corner of this page.

Also, rapper Saul Williams is pulling a Radiohead–you can download his album for free or pay $5, whatever you prefer. Awesome. Go here to order. I wasn’t a huge fan of his last album, but now I really want to like him so I’ll give the new one a chance. Plus, it’s produced by Trent Reznor. Mos def worth a checkout.

And now the main event:

I’m hesitant to recommend any hip hop album with a guy who goes by a name with the word “fudge” in it, but here we go anyway. Insight and Damu the Fudgemunk are Y Society, whose debut album, Travel At Your Own Pace, has now officially dropped on Tres Records.

It’s full of samples, riffs and rhymes borrowed from classic material to create a conscious, joyful collage or hip hop culture. Both Damu and Insight have bios
that include successes as DJs, and it shows in this remarkable record. Both have smooth and easy flow (a welcome respite from the in-your-face bling-bling crunk dominating the airwaves these days), and both are intelligent enough to tell their stories with a minimum of profanity.

The old school blended edutainment begins at the beginning, with “This is an Introduction,” the kind of here-we-are track that you don’t find too much on modern rap records, but which used to be the rule back in the Native Tongue ‘90s. “Never Off (On and On)” is heavily influenced by Tribe Called Quest, from the hook to the samples, scratches and generally superlative turntable marksmanship. But “Hole In You Pocket” changes it up, relying heavily on the rhythm track to make the message. Then “Good Communication,” with its Beastie-Boy/TCQ influence, brings back the complex funky drummer beats of guys like Grandmaster Flash. If you listen carefully, each song is a tribute to a different kind of classic record.

This album should be fascinating to hip hop scholars, and, hopefully, inspiring to new jacks. With so many rappers using canned beats created before the lyrics
by a faceless producer, it’s cool to see an album where MC and DJ work together, back and forth, weaving in and out, each alternately laying back for the other: True teammates. (It’s mostly Insight on the mic, but Damu pops in now and then.) Younger readers may not realize that this used to be the rule, not the exception: When guys like KRS-One and Chuck D were coming up, the DJ was an essential part of the act, he wasn’t just a backdrop. Now, gang-bang production jobs are the rule: Throw on a Storch jam here, another by Neptunes there, so no real album, no real style, emerges.

Please check this out. Artists like this need our support.

For fans of: Mr. Lif, BDP and KRS-One, Jurassic 5, Tribe Called Quest.

Good Communication

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