There is no music more mined, collected, catalogued than the greatest Classical music of all time: Jazz. It was made in this capitalistic hell of crassly united states by the brothers bullied in the brashest of brass sections. So brothers Blues’d through compositions and every last piece was recorded the last century. These beginnings of mass recordings are exploitative archives of greatness and are also the foundation of the crates. The creating and storage of all Black music has expanded to all diaspora beyond borders from Puerto Rico and Jamaica islands to the UK and South America. But no recorded history is deeper in quantitative richness than Jazz. Word Madlib! There’s a lot of crates out there.
The Jazz of this Hip Hop we live, is the mastery of improvisation of all our found illness: the knowledge born to us by the older Gods, the stories in the uncracked real-story books and the crates of yesteryear sounds. After forty years, the battle of the Real artists of this counter culture is countering and balancing the right standards of preservation and the demanded innovation. Over and through Stories From The Brass Section, Houston’s Anti-Lilly brings new pro-illy on the mic while Phoniks again spells the beats break by break that is now part of this great Hip Hop history. Happening now…
Deep blues rooted as an MC, the preservation in Anti’s verses are immediately seen in his quotes of homage that fluidly dive into his verses. As the next generation of MCs, Anti-Lilly gives honorable illy with homage on his retrospection from Tupac (As I reflect, all respect to those who break their neck to keep their goals in check/I focused, yeah/my tunnel vision been a little tinted/shaded by visions of things I’ve tried to forget/now I’m forced to remember how it all fell down…” – “Decension”) to AZ (“Realizing the realism of life/And actually it ain’t half bad/I’m puttin’ yin and yang in the same bag/Got another story to tell so gather round/As I open up my thoughts and tell you what’s going down/ Been down on my luck my parents splittin’ up my granny just passed away’/Another passing day asked my pastor to help me past today/He said pray to your father I tried to place a call/But I think my signal’s crossed can’t hear nothing at all/Maybe it’s too loud…” – “Blue In Green”). All a refreshing display of a young brother fighting to be great and though he leaves with problems, we stay with great works. “Young G” epitomizes his intensity on the mic and his theme of expressing his reality in the struggle going off with “I’m waiting for my time I’m aware with my eyes I’m shanking/Whoever trying to take my place in this line/As if you try to cut and shit/Obvious you don’t know who you fuckin’ with/I’m slanging lyrical substances/ my nigga fuck your supplements/You gassed up, but fuck that cheese you see I’m shredded/Smokin’ on that gas I grab my clip and unlead it/Then reload I’m just floatin’ I ask myself where I’m headed/Sendin’ in this devil I’m lookin’ for heaven believe it nigga/Cause I’m the best but ain’t never been no conceited nigga/Just trying to position myself just to touch the ceiling nigga/My pops told me to invest in my grind…” The intangibles cannot be given Masters of Ceremonies and the heart Anti-Lilly verses is never not there.
Innovatively, Anti-Lilly becomes a young wisdom sharer through these stories because he tells his hells with intimate clarity. His search for a better way includes the tries of hope but are fueled by the activation of principles. It all fits purely because his skill on the mic is principled in trained talent. Lyrically, Anti is a bar chaser and with his southern drawl, manipulated dynamically with stylistic inflections, can be all heard as the rarity Andre 3000 of ’94 to ’98 was. There is his “Everyman” that picks up speed to trap more words in the bar that becomes a successful trademark tech for him. The verse begins in a up tempo’d monotone flow on a upper mid tempo track speeding up on “We all takers sometimes but it’s been taking some time/For me to bounce back from my back being smacked/Between a rock and a hard place it’s what you make it/The hard times never last sometimes you gotta give sometime you gotta take it/Nothing in the way of the moves I’m potentially making…” These chases are literally one nano-second from being off bar. They all end up there and the possibility of mistake is thrown away because he has the character and a worthy message driving his bars. Throughout, Anti-Lilly is an MC that starts verses with immediacy and increases speeds, pauses on inflections and high pitches the understanding. This makes Anti more than the sum of his parts and with such a short LP, at 36 minutes, there are no errors left to our ears.
Now, Phoniks’ rise is similar to 9th Wonder in the early 2000s when his beats inspired with extreme quality yet also can be noted as derivative of classic Boom Bap. However, those arguments miss much. The majority of sound changes we attribute progressive, next shit and different than the Boom Bap sound of classic Hip Hop is really a failure of quality. It’s often just shitty drums, imbalanced and overworked high hats, trebled noise versus bass’d thickness on breaks. Or just bad sampling or no sampling for tiny synth taps on drum squares and melodic epiphanies of hot garbage that skat out of weeded heads. So whoop that trick is a progression of digression and the care in Phoniks’ pronounced tracks are a regression to progressive measures. Progressive measures that right now in a young career show great execution of the Art and have all the potential to innovate sound combinations unheard of.
Some hustle a cheap track to get a rappa rap flow with much lack…But Phoniks continues to get great mic talent. After the powerful performance of Awon on Back to the Golden Era, letting a veteran shine anew, he laces a very different styled MC with Anti-Lilly. The loveliness of Jazz is highlighted as the steady horn smoothly grooving on “Decension” or the horn echo and funky wamps on the Souls of Mischief inspired “14 Til.” Phoniks is still working on being completely unique with his drum patterns and his sampling. While there is familiarity that happens as his “Blue Dream” remix with the Womack and his formula is easy to understand, there will be many unnoticed jewels. Firstly, His DJ skills continue to strengthen as on “Rothko” where he isolates his own breaks, letting us focus on those vibraphone, then clips, cuts and drags the great legend Guru’s advice of “Read, study lessons and build your inner power.” Secondly, he is a superb arranger. Nearly every track, doubles up, pauses and restarts and/or gears slightly faster or slower with Anti-Lilly’s pace dynamics. Many of these will be and are just the work of Anti Mastering the Cipher as MC but that only means that Phoniks dropped a perfect beat. Either way, the understanding is that Phoniks is a perfectionist of precise timing. The mathematics of the snare, high hat and bass drum counts all are calculated around Anti-Lilly to thrust his verses out and feed our breakbeat addiction.
These Stories From the Brass Section is a wax prose of rugged sincerity on the struggle over beats of Jazz’d crunch. This struggle’s one all of us brothers see daily and is exactly the peak forum Hip Hop was built to be.