Skirts, sarongs and wraps. Brother turned bitch, do what you’re told! So he go curtsey to confuse a counterculture to conflicted compromise with a comprised caricature. That’s a way of strife for those that don’t know their history. Now independent I write, but listen free I cannot, for outside in the endless range of the Real, genetically modified zeroes creep their crutches into the peoples’ wax. So now every periodical penned is a salvage of sanctuary for the last creators not yet to be infected.
Supposed to never be infected, the MC is still in the trenches, the johnny field nigga popping and locking the crops to fuel the revolution. And in the mere music, the revolution has been at its core, the sound of real brothers and sisters stylistically confronting hate and lyrically battling oppression. Some of those honorable granules that seed these war fields spring up the roots of Quique’s Rebellion, Quique Cruz’ debut LP.
The brother Quique, known by many as Supreme Bo’Kem Allah, began to yell his fury as the guiding force behind last year’s Borikemetics EP [REVIEW HERE]. An MC, whom in and out of the booth, rarely leaves his thoughts and ideas unsaid; here, he is a Masterful Conductor of his major life moments with meticulous calculation. The power of the Quique’s Rebellion is the focus of diverse subject matter that serves as an immediate biographical history of his reality to the present rotations of this wax.
Bo’Kem, a straight forward MC with developing technical abilities, fulfills throughout with precise song execution. He will ride handclaps with a steady syllabic bounce on the verses as “A Father To My Child” flips Ayer’s with thick handclaps and drifting cymbal crashes. His charisma is not thrust in your ears wildly but built in balance by the track selections as he conversationally bombs on the title track’s wails, definitive cymbal crashes and accelerated bpm’s (beats per minute) on the verse portions. His speeds and tempos are subtle and keeps high with short speed spurts and timed pausing as on “Santa Ana Winds.” A peak example is the tempering of his cadence to a sinister enunciation to detail the fallen landscape he will go out fighting through on “The Paradigm.” Through the toughened drumroll break and somber strings reaching pensive peaks, he builds, “cause this is the time/the blind leading the blind/and young people dying/cause they dine on/ the swine/When I’ll go to jail if I commit a crime/but our government official’s just asked to resign/I’m blasting a nine for mine/ and my family/it’s pure insanity/the world’s in calamity/it’s vanity/ and greed that make the poor bleed/we don’t want that like round up ready seeds/they already feed us with genetically modified fruits and vegetation/poisoning the nation/with chemtrails/researching stem cells/we doing this ‘til the whole shit-stem fails/we need knowledge of self and they took it…” The choice to flow slow with a matching tempo and paralleling the drum rolls with extra rhyme layering on the verse is subtle mastery.
It certainly is the intangibles that propel Quique’s Rebellion so well. The intangibles of character and a gifted liveness that elevates his mic skill and pours into his beatmaking. All the beats are filled with resonance and diversity in beat structure. The tracks broken to the very last compound of bassdrums, snares and kicks to the horns, strings and guitar licks all have a familiarity. However, that familiarity is worked here by an MC, whose Rebellion is a B-Boy statement whose sum is more than its parts added. A statement of militancy in calls to arms ignited by the reworking of track components that instigate and inspire. From the thudding 1, 2 break of “Natty By Nature” to the horn propelled, cymbal with long snare work on “Distroy Di Pussy Bwoy,” the hypnotic bass and handclap chants of “Heaven & Hell (Interlude)” or the perfect use of maraca’d snares and piano loops from Willie Colon & Hector Lavoe’s “Calle Luna, Calle Sol” on “#DespiertaBorikwa.” The latter song is the classic peak of the album as it defines the entire rebellion of Bo’Kem’s subject matter. He is a Puerto Rican urban warrior taking us through topic after topic from his fatherhood (“A Father To My Child”), his Lower East Side, New York City roots and Los Angeles upbringing (“Born And Raised”), declarations of his live show MC prowess (“The Epitome”), the cleverness of his pure remake of Common’s “I Used to Love H.E.R.” that serves as a love song to his Queen [or vice versa!], “I Still Love You,” and the tough battle rebel songs (i.e. “It’s A Setup” featuring Sunset Park, Brooklyn’s Sunblaze) to his ultimate mission statement, “#DespiertaBorikwa.”
“#DespiertaBorikwa” isn’t just for Puerto Rico and we beautiful indigenous Ricans, the last official colonial subject of the western world on this hemisphere. It is that from all angles Bo’Kem is representing the still un/under-acknowledged co-creators of Hip Hop culture and an oppressed people that grandly display themselves while grandly needing of a knowledge of themselves. A diagnosis of hell that makes all we Original people sufferahs. “Wake up Borikwa and defend what’s yours/stop acting like a fucking pig on all fours/they made us citizens to fight in their wars/but they throw us all in prison when we fight for our cause…” is the signature chorus of Quique’s Rebellion and one of the most crucial peaks of understanding, the deeper message that Afrika Bambaataa, Crazy Legs and DJ Charlie Chase knew this culture could get to. Hip Hop, a music for the unheard and oppressed can only best be put together in LPs of rebellion. For Bo’Kem, Quique’s Rebellion is a complete debut of militant uprock MCing and downrock beatmaking that can break through today’s diluted and decaying fields of song skirts, singing sarongs and rapping wraps.