The chart toppers of today are no longer special specimens for big industry record label experiments. The laboratories are built in homes using the 15 minutes of fame ancestors to fuel them. They get college degrees and study marketing playbooks for catalysts into the fame they hideously await. But Fame Labs ain’t bout that. Fame Labs is a counter-commercial facility that originates in the Bronx, New York. Their laboratory quells from elements of the entire universe of thought and active principle that makes Hip Hop. They are a band of MCs/producers of obsessive re-definition to the days of the cassette tape rewinds. The street is the environment but the work they’ve picked goes deeper into mathematics and lessons as it does bricks and stickups. It’s the wonderful mess that makes the Black man resurrected in today’s world of knowledge of self, Hip Hop and oppression. This writer knows this contradiction that empowers righteousness over convoluted holiness and has called brothers of Fame Labs his own teachers on the high sciences as well as the rugged breakbeats.
It begins with Fame Labs’ MC/beat maker leader through these years, Darkim Be Allah. The mainstay of Fame Labs as they have collaborated with some of the best MCs New York has ever offered. With “To The Top” he storms in, “You know the Christ/fist raised/I’m a militant/shots still in the game…still playing chess with death/avoid prison/but don’t settle for less, enjoy living/don’t fuck with politics/or toy religions/real G’s multiply/now destroy divisions…” Darkim is an MC whose grittiness amplifies all of his abilities including his best commentaries which continue with incredible songs on racist, oppressive law enforcement (“NYPD will knock the head off a nigga/and I heard around the Nation that they will let off quicker/dum dums and hollow tips aim for the chest/I ain’t commit a crime but I’m resisting arrest/the cops get that shit off/Bronx County to Richmond/brothers know the script/everybody fit my description…” – “They Cops, We Black”). But the contradictions we find in Hip Hop based on a balance of survival in a savage world amidst constant reawakening to the very real supremacy of ourselves are embraced fully by Darkim as he chorus verses through “Illegally Black” with, “Almost took your head/study, digest God degree/add up to Farad now knowledge me/niggas pick a jail cell or college degree/America is hell without a dollar, B/track is lethal/relax where being Black is illegal/Hard to the max, where’s Black people?”
The irony of it all is that the fame they attain is attached to their respect to the art form. An irony exemplified by Master K-Bar, with a rigidly stern vocal presence, he attaches his verse together through clever word coupling, reaffirms the Fame labs approach (“wild and unruly/ many armed with the toolie/automatic/ spray sporadic/ bring about the tragic/reverse polarity/and be the ghetto fantastic/moment of clarity/watch me ghetto broadcast it/world wide web slinger/reppin’ for the thinkers…suckers trying to tinker with the culture/ crabs and biters/non-original rhyme writers/but I’m gon keep it brick/hardcore type slick…we can build for the better…the cure for the young and frustrated”). K-Bar, with only one track, is symbolic of Fame Labs, MCs that have a wealth of insight and have only begun to share it on wax with us.
That continues with Venge Milz who hits tracks with an exuberance. These brothers literally rip themselves from the hustle and bustle of the NYC’s cracked concrete to tell their stories. It’s all over “Back in the Ghetto” as Venge dives into his Brooklyn G.O.D. intro with “Fame Labs/cuts-N-stabs/muffled gun blast/speakers blasting off with the math/catch VMilz burning marijuana-n-hash/all in your stash/fondling cash/the ‘Ville is Brown, the KHODA is Black/the real Gods is back/in the ghetto Medina fever flavored up with that…” The balance of the project is its subtle commentaries, non-preachy and filled with details of rugged gore and cash lore. Venge Milz’ equality of thought is on “Kill or Be Killed” with a strong narrative of the street hells.
Beatwise, led by Darkim on the beats, the minimalist track work is the experiment of success that they continue. “They Cops, We Black” has a mere thudding beat and sprinkled high hats and cymbal crashes that ride off a smooth piano stabbed note. The organ and piano keys of “To The Top” and hand clapping snares doubling up make a mid-tempo track burst with added energy for Darkim’s block wars. Incredible subtleties of the perfect Hip Hop track are in the airy strings and punctuating electric guitar riff of “Illegally Black” with a studious bassdrum and defined snare that drops in lovely on the verses.
Fame Labs are MCs that rhyme about the Real. They are 5 Percenters immersed in survivor hustling and thriving teaching. When we have any wax on them it’s a break from real life to share their experiments of vintage hardcore Hip Hop we need from these Fame Lab scientists.
@FameLabs @masterkbarallah @AllahChrist
Knowledge the Darkim Be Allah Fame Labs Series feature interview HERE.