OUR WORLD TODAY: A CONVERSATION WITH WORDSWORTH x SAM BROWN

A review and discussion of the invigorating new record from the veteran MC and producer

“Never let anyone — even those closest to you — say you can’t do something if you know you can. Everyone has a light and a purpose, so find your purpose and shine that light until it’s burnt out.” — Sam Brown

Legendary veteran MC and Brooklyn, New York native Vinson “Wordsworth” Johnson teamed up with rising producer/MC/engineer Sam Brown to craft Our World Today, their brand-new full-length collaboration set for release August 11, 2017 on Fat Beats Records.

The record is easily amongst the best hip-hop records of the year — and in recent memory — for several standout reasons:

  • Efficiency: the entire record — from beats to rhymes to guest appearances — is as efficient and concise as any fan could hope. No extra words, filler skits, lingering or meandering beats; every piece of the project comes in, plays it’s part and exits. The professional attitude and output is one of the album’s biggest succesess.
  • Format: Our World Today shines amongst similar MC-and-producer collaborations partly due to the coherence and chemistry between the two artists, and partly because each creator does their very best to bring their very best to each track.
  • Skill: Make no mistake — the entire album is near-flawless in content because the chief architects along with their minimal but necessary supporting cast are supremely talented artists, all operating on the same page for the same desired outcome. This is high-level MC wordplay set atop timeless beats which invoke nostalgia and inspiration.

Brown (coming off last year’s LegSweep Specialist full-length collaboration with Fuzz Jaxx) and Wordsworth (the underdog hero of the underground scene for two decades) recall the best elements of cerebral, soulful hip-hop while still crafting an entirely timeless and emotive album. Aside from “The Election”, the remaining fourteen tracks could be placed in any era past or present — the words Wordsworth writes would remain relevant; the beats Brown brings would bang.

Our World Today champions positivity, introspection, skill and life-lessons listed by an MC a bit older and wiser since he first burst onto the scene in the late ‘90’s. Conversely, while Brown is relatively new to the scene, his production is pristine and made to stand the test of time. If their first collaborative project is any indication, Words and Brown could manufacture a dozen more full-length albums with no drop-off in quality.

With guest appearances from the God MC Masta Ace as well as the supremely multi-talented Pearl Gates, Virginia native yU and legends Sadat X and The Last Emperor, Our World Today is ridiculously replay-able, thoroughly enjoyable and filled with depth and observations of the simultaneous world today and throughout time. Nestled amongst the very best one-producer / one-MC records, Our World Today is lush with advice, personal narratives, fictional smoke signals and an overwhelming sense of optimism and serenity.

Read below to get a track-by-track breakdown of one of the year’s best albums, including thoughts from Wordsworth, Sam Brown and the album’s guest artists. Support hip-hop!

1. HORNS FROM THE SOUL

“I see the big picture when the song ends and I’m popular / You thinking small like looking out binoculars the wrong end”

The horns from the lead single couldn’t be brighter, announcing serious talent ahead. The video is also beautifully filmed and directed by longtime eMC consultant Powermalu.

2. THE ELECTION

“Can’t hide it / we’re a country divided / the powerful versus the poor / who you side with?”

Ominous beat deserving of the subject matter. Perhaps the only ‘current’ song on the album, Wordsworth delivers the chorus as half-mockery, half-threat.

“The Election” shows how the struggle feels within society; we’re stuck and have to make something from nothing. Just like how hip-hop was created: truth shines to those who have the knowledge to absorb it.” — Sam Brown

3. CHURCH

“By me they’re fascinated / you fake / you fabricated / I’m ill / before you come to the studio / get vaccinated / get your character assassinated / buried with your jewelry on / then we dig you up / then have your casket raided”

The huge Brown beat really gives Words room to blow. Fire track.

“Self-reflection and self-awareness are the most important traits to have, because pride will have you dying while you’re alive.” — Wordsworth

4. CONVICTED f/ LOUIS, MASTA ACE & PEARL GATES

“Fights break out on the block for the smallest things / we unaware there was a day when they called us kings” — Masta Ace

A modern-day track with unfortunate history. Brown nails the beat in support of the terrific chemistry between the longtime associates, who trade tales regarding the perils of simply being African-American in America today.

“The struggle of a Black man: Words is baby, Ace is adolescent and Gates is grown man.” — Sam Brown
eMC

5. ONE FOOT IN, ONE FOOT OUT f/ yU

“I think about the songs that I made / did I help to raise or to cage? / every moment standing on the stage / did I help enslave or to save?”

Beautiful beat full of nostalgia and soul. Brown has a certain amount of ska influence on the horns while Wordsworth takes his time painting another pro portrait of pain.

“Never let anyone — even those closest to you — say you can’t do something if you know you can. Everyone has a light and a purpose, so find your purpose and shine that light until it’s burnt out.” — Sam Brown

6. DOWN

“Our love was never watered (down) / since day one (down) / and you held my daughter (down) / and you held my son (down) / and you held me (down) / and I hold you (down) / when it all fell (down) / that’s how I know you (down)”

Dope concept, superb execution. Words again shows his expert level: never rushing his words or verses. The entire album is timed and spaced out so beautifully; “Down” is one of many examples.

7. BROOKLYN

“Lips closed / cases unsolved from tips told / zip code is the number of body bags zipped closed”

Another in a long list of homages to BK and NYC with a modern update including the Nets and gentrification. Could’ve fit perfectly on Mos Def’s Black On Both Sides from 1999.

“As a representative for my community, it’s important to show that passion and dedication will help dreams come true, as long as you balance it with humility and a sense of reality.” — Wordsworth

8. EACH 1 TEACH 1

“Like father, like son / like mother, like daughter / do everything to break the cycle / and life’s order / history repeats / busy in the streets / bloodline predictable / misery and grief”

Important and complex commentary on parenthood and the value in community.

“That just shows the apple don’t fall far. You have to figure out how to break the mold; you be the one.” — Sam Brown
“To be a father-figure is priceless and I hadn’t realized how much missing some moments of my kids lives while I was tour meant. I was out there performing and now I’ve been home more often since I began teaching and realize performing as a Dad is more important.” — Wordsworth

9. STRONG AND WISER

“Mainly / you’re angry / want to change me / want to blame me / the bad guy / want to paint me for / our problems / want to name me / sunny days turning rainy / want to shame me / want to play me / want to tame me / want to train me / like an animal / that ain’t me, though”

Brutally honest relationship insight and introspection.

“Today’s relationships are more worried about what other people think; we forget the relationship takes two people that pay attention to each other more than other’s perceptions.” — Sam Brown

10. HERO f/ THE LAST EMPEROR

“Invading your radio station this damn summer / embrace the invasion of Martian Manhunter / the alien rapper who fell from bright stars / I melt rappers with radioactive-type bars / Scoop up supervillains and slam ’em on cars / until they admit that the Black man was on Mars”

A rare and celebrated cameo from The Last Emp over a thumping beat straight from Magneto’s brain.

“Describes the way our idols act and society still deems them heroes.” — Sam Brown

11. MAJOR THINGS f/ PEARL GATES

“These small victories turn into major things / if you could weigh them all together / it might just break the bank / Amazing Grace / from the place we came / and made a way” — Pearl Gates

Gates delivers a soaring chorus between back-and-forth verses from the eMC teammates. This is a beautiful track from start to finish.

“The sound of inspiration and drive in the struggle.” — Sam Brown
“This was an important record for me because at the time I wanted to motivate myself and appreciate the little things I was doing in life to get closer to my goals. “These small victories turn into Major Things” is a reminder to focus on the little things and trust the growth.” — Pearl Gates
Wordsworth x Pearl Gates

12. KEEP IT RAW

“Minority / majority / Republicans panic / want to take advantage of all the voters / that’s the standard / oh, now they need us? / co-op apartments and parking meters / too expensive to keep us / troops home / truce for gang rival leaders / sinners turn to Jesus / Bible readers”

Another amongst an album-full of real-life tales and lessons.

“You have to learn when to reassess like a corporation, you’re your biggest business. Sometimes you’ve got to downsize from the Jordans or realize when it’s safe to buy the Benz.” — Wordsworth

13. BABIES IN THE STROLLER f/ SADAT X

“Used to be wires / double-dutch / jumping rope / not no more / double Dutches / two blunts that you smoke”

Knocking beat and killer appearance from the unmistakable Sadat X.

“Hits so true to the youth. The influence on the youth is all the kids have to grab on to. My generation was so fortunate to have music that made a lot of today’s unreasonable wants and fabrications seem stupid or showed the underling truth. They gave us the math and science behind it; the knowledge and the wisdom. We just had to decipher the language and see the light. What comes from the struggle has always amazed me.” — Sam Brown

14. KEEP ROCKIN’ f/ SAM BROWN

“This is for the ones that don’t got a lot to eat / for the ones under the streetlight / hustling for that cheese / the ones that get thrown right by the stripper’s feet / are the same ones that provide the baby’s meal every week / the ones we hold up / when we place bets for our team / are the ones we gon’ lay down / when we ride for our dreams” — Sam Brown

Incredible verse from Sam Brown! This is a major track, hopefully will get some major attention for both participants.

“The same as signing to Em or Dre: this was the opportunity to stand beside one the greatest lyricist to ever do it. Like for real, one of the greatest — compare him to any and he’ll hold his own. I started as a MC way before producing, never found my lane until years later with my own production. It was always hard to find beats — everyone sounds like someone else and I never wanted that. If I’m going to get a Premo beat, then dammit it needs to be Premo. I never understood how a MC could say, “Don’t let me get a Premo beat, I’ll murder that MF’er!” So what the fuck you been doing to every other beat? I don’t preform for the masses I preform for history. I get one song to rap on with Wordsworth — it better be the best damn song I ever did. I try and approach every song that way — otherwise, what’s the point?” — Sam Brown

15. THE REAL (OUTRO)

“Severe ties with the fake / most recognize / for every letter scribed / since ink on the feather dried / you wouldn’t deliver a bigger and a better rhyme / with your response / if you changed the font / and the letter size”

Another dusted-off sample closing the album on an impeccable note, full of energy and life. True hip-hop.

“This one brings people right where hip-hop should be.” — Sam Brown