It must have the fifth listen or the tenth listen, I don’t know; Bas “Too High To Riot” track from the “Too High To Riot” album was playing and Bas dope flow had me nodding my head, vibing as Bas cursed out “all the leaders that’s too high off power” and do dirt in hiding ; then he said “But I am no better” and everything quieted down.
And the words kept echoing in my mind for the next hour while the album played in the background.
It’s just five words but it set me thinking that here’s he’s being conscious but he’s not just putting the blame on the leaders, he’s also taking responsibility and a share in the blame.
That honesty is what made me listen to the album with fresh ears then I realized that Riot is neither a conscious hiphop album nor a drug rap album but a regular-person album with a protagonist that’s caught between these two labels.
That’s what made it so relatable. It’s not an album made to fit a label or a tag. It just resonated with me and I picked different aspects I could relate to.
The honesty has to be the central theme for the album. I don’t think I have listened to any body of work that I could almost completely relate to, like this, in a while. It’s almost like he took all the words out of my mouth.
I pictured MX stabbing and slashing Big Bad while reading out his crimes to him with a wild demonic dangerous look in his face. He has already given in to his dark side so he doesn’t care for the rules anymore.
I was listening to Boogey‘s “Incognito” over the weekend (for the umpteenth time) and I realised how tightly woven the concept/story behind the project was. And I like concept/storytelling albums and making theories about them, so I decided to write what I think was going in the background of Incognito.
The poetry/commentary in between the tracks works well at explaining the story but I think there’s a lot more going on.
So the protagonist is called Messenger X. And he is an alien from the sky and he belongs to a species/race he calls “The Sky People”. All that is evident from “Blah Blah From The Sky People” where Boogey uses hints to show what MX is here for. But we don’t know much about the people he came to visit until we get to “Devil Beans” where we can tell that the people have been calling out for a saviour and MX is telling them that he is the answer to their prayers and he tells them what he can do, trying to gain their acceptance. At this point he’s able to convince some of the population and he rise up in population while the rest, the doubters rise up against him into a group called “Bad Belle” as is seen in “Matiasma”. He warns them to stay away and that he’s not fazed by their unbelief and scheming. He realises that there is a big bad evil villian (let’s call him “Big Bad”) and he sets off to wrestle with Big Bad. Now the problem is the Big Bad guy is pure evil and he does not hold back when he fights and MX, even as hard as he tries, cannot defeat Big Bad without giving in to his own dark side. He knows there will be consequences if he does but still he goes on with the idea.
This part of the story majorly solidifies my idea of MX as an anti-hero or “anti-messiah” as Boogey said in “Antimessage”. Here the imagery is super vivid. I pictured MX stabbing and slashing Big Bad while reading out his crimes to him with a wild demonic dangerous look in his face. He has already given in to his dark side so he doesn’t care for the rules anymore. Basically, overkilling. Then he defeats Big Bad but since he technically “sold his soul”, he dies as that is the consequence for going dark. And he is reborn in “The Boy” ( There is a subtle hint at this in the commentary at the beginning of “The Boy”) as a new guy called “The Boy” who is still MX but now a conqueror and he is celebrated and accepted by all the people now, that’s why he’s bragging all through : “Who’s messing with the boy?” and all that. Then the most logical thing takes place next : the people decide to make him their king. This takes place in “The King”. Now he has the influence to spread his message (What is a messenger without a message?)
This is my favourite part of the story because this is where the message really is. It is here MX tells the people that bitter truth about time and death and the darker themes. And I believe that as he tells them about these stuff, they really happen to him, too. So he starts in “Memento Mori” telling them about how death is inevitable and it is the greatest equaliser. And that they should not waste time so they do not have to regret later on. This message believe starts to make him unpopular among the people as they do not want to hear all that. Then we’re on to “People Always Leave” where he continues with the theme of time and lets those remaining still listening to him about how people won’t always love you and stay and all that. Basically about the selfishness that is deep rooted in people. Ironically this same thing is happening to him too. He used to be the adored saviour and the great King, now less people listen to him. This part is reminiscent of Shakespeare’s Sonnet 7. Then he realises that the most important thing is not be popular but to be loved and to pay more attention to those who care rather than those who do not. Then he tells the people in “Celebrate ” to cherish the time he has with them, somehow foreshadowing his death in “Last Words” where , he doesn’t take his advice at the end of “People Always Leave” to ignore the hate, and he gets depressed seeing how far he has fallen off from his high status and decides, sadly to end his life.
He wakes up to realise that he cannot just die and rest like that. His spirit is still alive, unable to rest until he haunts and ends all his enemies. So he sees other similar angry spirits who had scores to settle with the living and gathers an army that only knows carnage and desolation to their adversaries. He does this in “Resurrection” and “Bring it Back” continues the theme.
This is just my theory and I feel if you listen to the project with the storyline in your mind, it feels like watching a science fantasy story playing out.
The first half of the story is reminiscent of Jesse Jags’ “God on The Mic”.
The imagery beneath the verses in Antimessage is super vivid. I could picture the fatal battle between Big Bad and Messenger X.
It parallels the story of a rap ‘messiah’. I could write about that too but this post would be too long.
Unorthodox, Inspiring, 19-Those are the first three words that came to my mind when I finished my first listen of “Youth N Truth EP” by Versed.
A few weeks prior to the EP release, I had been so stressed out that I discovered I could not write anymore. I had writer’s block. I was aghast. Why that’s relevant is because after I gave the EP its first listen, I got that fire burning inside me again. And now I’m writing.
The EP reminds me of J Cole’s “The Come Up”. I’m talking about how it’s raw and you know the artist(e) is on to something great. That’s how I feel about the EP.
There were a lot of Illmatic references in the EP but this was no Illmatic though. Maybe on the next project. 😉
Now, about the sound, at times it sounds like it’s spoken word, at times it sounds like rap. I think it’s cool. The rhyming and flow does not conform to the formulaic style everyone does these days.
Versed use a lot of scenarios and literary devices (especially similes and metaphors) to convey the ideas behind the songs. It’s like poetry on a hip hop beat, ain’t nothing better than that.
My favourite song is “Myopia”. It was out as a single.
Versed comes across as a very inspired young man who does not care for the rules and would not be deterred by how different his sound is. That’s a quality of people who win in the end.
My favourite line :
“Hyperbole will underrate me”
I hope so. That’s a very very very big brag though.
It’s a great debut effort. It’s cool that it does not come off as preachy (because it has some prophetic vibes on it).
I wish Ab-soul’s album would come quicker so I can know that’s what I’m listening to for the rest of the year. But I still can’t get over Rapsody and Ab-soul’s track “2 AM”. Freaking amazing!