From ras clot to bourgeois eclat. Never dat. I n I lion neva fih Babylon. Instead, we know that we immigrants who are darker than blue are collateral. Collateral for multinational and neo-colonialist damage. Foreign fields sucked off some things to all things and flocks flee to a new shiny nothing said to be something or something. America so-so to Sun when oh so many suffer for this larger near dem bakra. Massa’s crumbs collect into a tasty assimilation biscuit, baws!
And the right raps are supposed to trap it all. Corral ideas of rebellion in contradiction in measures where verses match the repeated breaks. Breaks beat and verses travel in them and bantons have dem stories for bredren. Stories like a gentrifier strays too far and sees the Brownsville hells he don’t own yet. Now Barclays and friendlies are light years away. Will the horns of his arrogance quiet his de-melanated, awkward and amplified pump-pump fear-filled beat of his heart? Labba labba. More fire and fire pon…How much skank to for the bars of the Ranking, an MC that MCs like few, Labba?
Labba Ranks plays with the heart of great Hip Hop where brothers don’t give a fuck and all the care and technique stained in the acetate the uppity can’t hear. Brooklyn’s Labba Ranks isn’t an MC’s MC rhyming techniques of all of literature’s playbooks explored. He’s a Master of Ceremony as the Trinidad island roots would have in chant out in East Flatbush. His cadence is tempered in the slow and his rhythm makes every rhyme hit with an overemphasized guided inflection. He is literally chanting through breaks and the title track is the epitome of that supremacy. This is one of the most unique stylist exhibitions that augment one of Hip Hop’s crucial roots, its Jamaican/West Indian foundation.
As much of his Blunts Bongs Bitches EP revealed he has a strong sense of classical slow to low mid-tempo MCing, Labba Ranks is far more experimental in its roots core. While “Ohra Le Ese” will have him chant straight battle bars, they only serve to complete diversity achieved. As “My Day One Niggas” highlights over a mere shout out track that rhymes subtly, Labba’s powerful booming baritone casually does the work. Often a bass driven boom track as Tsarbee’s “King Ferragone,” his stutter stop start, rewind to rev up the flow (i.e. “Blue balls, blue balls…”) are daring innovation. Though Labba lacks word complexity and his styles don’t allow verbal dexterity, it is beneath the surface of street ragamuffin acts, hoe lecturing and battle boasting that his song concepts are filled with clever comedic wit so “Euros” his inflections cause catchy phrases while “How We Do,” his phrasing is syllable matched on Ligalize’s ill classic break rework. Biggie’s legacy as a master of locution is constantly paid homage as on “6 Pack” but the point is that Labba is overtly and blatantly West Indian Trini-trill. This constantly clever slow flow, irie rude bwoy, boom bye bye bars are example of the variety of Original Black and Brown cultures that infused the embryo of Hip Hop music and ought to be in its near middle aged adult of recorded music it has become.
Beatwise, PF Cuttin’s title track work is impeccable with a handclap snare on a riddim bassline through live sirens that keeps Labba’s bars on soundclash. It opens up the Boom Bap Ligalize adds on ill (“Marksmen,” “How We Do,” “Ohra Le Ese”) to the slow whine pon grind of Tsarbee’s “Solange,” or the bass filling funk groove of “Home.” Into the classic poverty tales all us island brothers and sisters in Medina relate on the slow tempo of Easy El Pee’s R&B reggae’d “Lie” melodicness.
So many seek to keep Hip Hop alive with preservation of the Boom Bap ethos making boring 1, 2 break slabs or the sloppy complexity of quasi lyricism with no heart. However, preservation needs daring with innovation and Labba’s daring to innovate with a preservation of his Roots fih culture is that one drop that can riddim a better music inna da morrows. Nuh true?!!