Friday, June 5, 2009
Soulution "Shine Through"
When I think of the Hip Hop I love, it’s not the hard core gangsta tales that inspire me but the soulful productions that any number of emcees chose to rhyme on about their life. From Nas telling stories about the view from his project window to Brother Ali doing the same almost a decade later or delivering a sermon about the modern day fuckery that is American politics (“Uncle Sam Goddamn” anyone?) the music of these tracks and countless others inspire movement and excitement. The canvases produced by record collectors provided the right back drop for inspired poetry – and that is Hip Hop.
Soulution may be an unknown name in the country which birthed his chosen genre of music, but he certainly managed to capture the pens of a number of talented emcees – some known and some not so known, but all incredibly talented at delivering impassioned rhymes for the people to take in and enjoy.
Being born in the Netherlands in the early 80s, one listen to Soulution’s debut album Shine Through will demonstrate that while kids across America were becoming entranced by this magical new style of music so to were our peers across the water, and that is something special. To see this culture expand and escape the confines of our borders to be taken and interpreted in whole new ways is an awesome example of the power held within this music.
Of course Soulution isn’t the first to do it, hardly in fact. The UK has had a thriving Hip Hop scene for almost as long as it’s existed here and I’m sure the emcees from Africa, Australia, Cuba and all points in between have influences in their own societies as well as the legends every Hip Hop head respects. But even with thriving scenes across the globe, America is still closing its ears to the sounds of the streets elsewhere.
Now some could argue that it’s the simple fact that one doesn’t want to listen to music in a language they can’t understand – I can dig it. While I’ve listened to some music in other languages, not being able to understand the lyrics to a song makes for a unique and different listening experience that could easily become frustrating; I rarely go back for repeat listens to much of the stuff I’ve heard in another language.
Soulution has bypassed this problem entirely by featuring an extensive line up of emcees and singers, mostly from the states with perhaps a few European guests as there are a handful of unfamiliar names present on the track list.
Delivering a powerful set of instrumentals, Soulution’s name suits him well as he is obviously schooled in the classic soul music so much of Hip Hop has been built on. But even on the rare track or two that he does decide to flip a song that has already been sampled he executes it to perfection proving that he is not just trying to regurgitate that which has already been done.
While his productions are obviously influenced by the likes of DJ Premier, Pete Rock, J Dilla, et al. he has a few tricks up his sleeve that make for some great surprises. On the great up beat banger simply titled “Anthem” we hear Project Move get in your face and I don’t think anyone could not be filled with energy after hearing it.
With Shine Through Soulution has crafted a care free collection of tracks. While so much Hip Hop gets weighed down by the politics of the industry or the posturing that one needs to perpetrate to come across as though he is hard and from the streets, Soulution is just kicking it with the homies on a nice sunny day in the park.
El Gambina spits on the heartfelt “Love Life” to beautiful results as she paints a picture about life. The good, the bad, the ugly, the beautiful and all the emotions in between are captured and with a well placed scratched hook (I love a good scratched in hook, too bad it’s so poorly executed far to often) and some melodic strings, Soulution comes across like a conductor of beats.
Being a producer driven album guests are the norm here and where so many production albums can fail with boring no name emcees weighing down the fluidity Shine Through flows like water never once hearing a song out of place (oh the lost art of sequencing) or an emcee who doesn’t belong. Talib makes an appearance alongside Asheru, only adding to the nostalgic quality of this album. Then there’s the Bahamadia, Mr. J Medeiros, and Supastition posse cut “Soul Shine” filled with its triumphant horns, a well sung hook and some knocking dusty drums. These are just two examples of well matched artists to Soulution’s beats.
With music such as this it’s easy to get inspired and lose your mind in the tunes for an hour as you just enjoy it. Hip Hop is supposed to be fun, and that forgotten element shine’s through loud and clear here on Soulution’s debut album.