Posts Tagged ‘outkast’

The golden era of hip-hop officially began during the late Eighties with artists such as KRS-One, Rakim, Mos Def, Gangstarr and A Tribe Called Quest discussing afrocentrism and contemplating the need for anti-Aryan militant warfare; all the while, being backed by pounding bass beats and eclectic turntablism. Its tenure was short-lived as rappers from Death Row Records laid to waste the golden age with their “guns ganja and gangsta” blueprint. Even as aging MCs continued releasing albums and mixtapes, it was evident that as far as the mainstream was concerned, if Dre or Puffy didn’t produce it, well…it wasn’t shit.

During the late-Nineties even as gangster rap was losing creative momentum and gaining notoriety, people were still reluctant to fully accept the golden age. Cue for bands like Outkast and Black-Eyed Peas and of course, the incorrigible Akon family, to grab the microphone and take it straight to the dance floor, and in the minds of hip hop purists, to hell. I am certainly no purist, after all Vanilla Ice and Fresh Prince initiated me to this genre of music. But it confuses me to no extent that the golden age never gained it’s rightful status as the official voice of the Africa American culture. 

This sub-genre had all the right ingredients – smooth beats with extra cheese, reformist poetry, and an unparalleled flow. I’d sooner see pigs fly than hear 50 Cents rhyme a verse better than Talib Kweli or Lil’ Jon drop a beat that can even begin to match anything that DJ Premier can spin out, even if he suffered from paraplegia. But for some odd reason, it just wasn’t meant to be. Notwithstanding this apparent glitch in hip-hop’s evolution, I strongly urge you not to lose out on over a decade of great music…that would be akin to tripping on The White Stripes while being oblivious to what The B-52s were once capable of.

Brother Ali is a devout Muslim and a fantastic rapper. His smooth-as-velvet-rain rhymes and laidback beats can tear the roof off clubs and double up as a background score for coffee and conversation. This sort of music isn’t dependent on the environment, but rather on the mind and for the many moods it goes through. “Rain Water” is one of the best hip-hop songs I have heard in a really long time. Inspired stuff that Chicken Soup For The Soul wishes it was made of. Not since I heard Kweli’s “The Truth”, have I felt this way about the genre.

Is life so obscene that death’s more serene / Or was an old author tryin to write his own closing scene / Nothing stings like knowing that the woman that gave me this life /Is being eaten from the inside / I thought we never make shit right

I feel a bit awkward understanding what this song is about. I’m a 26-year-old South Indian, born in Chennai and raised by television and radio. Despite the financial problems we once faced, I only have fond memories of poverty and a simpler life. And neither do I belong to an oppressed race nor do I fret over my mom having a coke addiction. Logically, I shouldn’t even be on the same plane of consciousness as an albino Islamic rapper who has fought through oppression and poverty. But it feels like I am. I guess sometimes music transcends the artist’s intention to say something and starts paying attention to how the audience wants to listen to it. Brother Ali, take a bow.


Brother Ali’s Rain Water on Youtube


Brother Ali – Rain Water (live)

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