Conscious. This nigga’s not conscious. That brother is conscious. I’m aware of shit but don’t call me conscious. That nigga flip flop on his conscious shit then. See, them down South cats been cooning a long time and the mere awareness of the elements is an oddity. From hick-hop to coon trap, the South’s bamboozled the Art and given the man something trill of ill, but not ill of skill, to sell us to hell. And I got diagnoses on diagnoses dropped on me like I was some hammock, chuleta swallowing, 180 proof guzzling savage past his prime. Never that, but I been had forms of Drapetomania running from devils my whole life but now I be running from dem savage nigga tunes too. Today, a healthier vegetation coming from the South—The Green Seed from Birmingham, Alabama, debuting music with all the elements for a score you can run from genetically modified ciphers, cross dressing trappas and whitey all at once. But we gon stop running through the bush right now, throw some hush puppies on the ground and before we crawl into the Tubman’s railroad lets do the knowledge to this Drapetomania LP…
The four man group is led by two MCs: R-Tist, a lyricist with a live Southern inflection who chases and catches the end of bars constantly and C.O.M.P.L.E.T., a textured verse writer whose articulation and clarity are enhanced by his syllabled syncopation and verbatim richness. The DJs: DJ FX and DJ Jeff C accentuate the bridges, drive the tempo and fill the spaces with momentum and anticipation as needed.
The thematic reality of Drapetomania is not what these brothers are running away from but how mindful they are running into it. The subject matter is sincere because their critiques are justified by their skill. The LP then becomes greater than the sum of its strong parts because they have layered the verses with distinct concepts (i.e. subject matter and character angles) and seasoned formats (i.e. choruses and verse flows and structures) while the music is pure breakbeats with lengthy details of filled snare and high hat combinations, unique drums, greatly DJ’d musical bridges, DJ’d crescendos and eq levels that let us hear it all with the mufuckin bass. As a group, R-Tist’s beat making skill is aided by the Communicating Vessels label production team to make a debut that can’t be a peak of excellence but is the powerful prelude to it.
A major focus of Drapetomania is getting those Hip Hop props by battle. The battle tracks as “Gotchoo” are declarations of their right Hip Hop intentions that we never expected from those lands ravaged by the industry. And when their concepts reach their cleverest as the first person rhyming as a the wack on “Gimmicks” they prove the boasts. “Up It Steps” has C.O.M.P.L.E.T. rep The Green Seed ideally with “…moments of rap brilliance giving you back the feeling/ that y’all lost when you got attacked by rap’s villains/they got you hooked with that first hit/ then you bought the package and found out that the product had severely slipped/these pocket rape-rs/ got your paper/then they dipped…”
The Drapetomania concepts are those actually universally relevant to the South and beyond all approached with cleverness and insight. Immediately the contrast between the two MCs is a jewel to the illness. Tempos are often kept high as their lead single, “Jude Law” yet the approach to liveness differs where R-Tist glides through with fluctuations on the rhyming bar whilst C.O.M.P.L.E.T. enunciates a barrage of select power phrases. On “Diss Connect,” their gifts for concepts are seen from the title to the cleverness of descriptions (“Misinformed and misdirected/travel pathways, a million kids erected/is it oppressive when our spiritual essence isn’t/ mentioned unless there’s a digital reference…”- R-Tist). On that last line, the MC skills are subtle as the pause R-tist uses on “isn’t” to catch it as a bar. Also, the choice of C.O.M.P.L.E.T. rhyming first also shows the right decisions to feature the verse that details the theme the clearest. “Is Where The Heart is” succeeds because the cliché anger and lust is replaced by a well worded declaration by C.O.M.P.L.E.T. and a sharp display of frustrated love by R-Tist. The peak of the LP is the “Town of Steal” finale. Another sharp song title wordplay as Birmingham was also known as a steel town for the many mills there. The pensive verses from R-Tist are layered in retrospect and metaphor while C.O.M.P.L.E.T. builds on the struggle of our Black family here, through their infamous town with the earlier idea as a steel town as a metaphor. It’s an incredible anthem and makes Hip Hop once again the voice of our brethren everywhere today as it is now a voice for Birmingham.
And those voices are laced with filled tracks that are just as layered as the verses. “Town of Steal” acoustically guitars itself into sharp elongated scratches, deep vocal calls and a stamping snare drum through a cascading piano’d bassline. Then there are the deep bass drums and reverberating noises, changing wails, rolling snares on “Up it Steps” amplifying a mid-tempo track to an rpm feel much higher. Then the tambourine crashes, high hat shakes, cascading strings and groove keys on the thick bass’d “Chance2Say” to then be outro’d with a wild smash guitar’d interlude. At their worst they are only familiar to the best of Aquemini’s eq’d brilliance in balanced levels or the live and fresh newness of Do You Want More?!!!??!
Drapetomania is dreaded name given to the natural desire that any enslaved Original man has to escape oppression. For The Green Seed, they redefine it as a natural talent to make Hip Hop that can make all the clichés thrust at our people, particularly down South, that dehumanizes us escape our grasp. They achieve this with this Drapetomania LP of hard worked quality and extra ordinary talents on the rise. The answer is now the question and the inspector now the inspected because we are the listeners that ought to be conscious of this Bama Boom Bap.