Hip Hop Needed Surgery to Survive; Dr. Configa Performed it Successfully.
I have a little story that I want to tell, which includes my review for Configa’s new album, Configaration Volume 1, under Chuck D’s record label, SLAMjamz Records, so grab some coffee and pay attention now. You’re about to read the beginning of True-School Hip Hop revival.
Remember that time when Hip Hop actually sounded like, ya know, music? Back when the rhymes told stories and the stories made sense, and people had somethin’ to say (my quote)? I do. I lived through that age. The good ‘ole 90’s. I always talk about it. What has this genre progressed into? Today’s commercial Hip Hop, which does nothing for me other then make me curse expletive words at my car stereo that say something along the lines of, “Again, really? I just heard these stupid sh** lyrics on the last 4 songs.” Ya know why they call Trap “music” Trap? Because they trap people into listening to the same stupid beats and lyrics over and over so that they spend lots of $1.29 clicks in iTunes on stupid music with stupid lyrics that sound, well, stupid; Unintelligible most of the time. I mean, how many times can they tell a story about how “great” they are because they copied the 10 other rappers’ lyrics in the tracks that played before theirs? The cool kids would say it like this; #FML.
Commercial Hip Hop is GARBAGE. Oh, did I say that? Why, yes I did.
Hip Hop was dead to me, but then came Configa, DOCTOR Configa, to be precise, direct from the U.K. (born and raised) to the U.S. and worldwide. Yes, he has a doctorate, which mean he’s actually got some brains up there to write some music that actually means something, like what Hip Hop used to be in the 90s, only bringing it to the modern day music scene, which he has done quite successfully, and saved Rap and Hip Hop from a dismal death of monotony and useless, meaningless lyrics. Configa not only talked Hip Hop off a ledge, but also performed much needed surgery on it and saved it with his own modern twist; adding artists who, not only know how to rap, but can actually tell stories in their lyrics.
In a previous review I wrote almost almost 2 years ago to the day, I said Configa will save Hip Hop. Well, he did. The patient survived because it had the right surgeon, Dr. Configa.
In a world riddled with Big this and Lil’ that, with every other rapper now calling themselves “Young X (fill in misspelled name here)”, there is finally something new and exciting for the rest of us real fans of real Hip Hop. Configa saved the genre with his new album, Configaration Volume 1, published under none other then one of the great masters of Hip Hop, Chuck D’s new label, SLAMjamz Records.
Having worked with some of the best Hip Hop artists on the planet, this album is a culmination of his talent and ear for great lyrics and artists, and even greater beats. From beginning to end, this album revives Hip Hop into what it should be in the modern day, great music with great beats and great rhymes, with a very diverse collection of artists and sounds which will pleasantly surprise you when you least expect it.
Do you want to hear what a real DJ sounds like on the turntable? Start listening to the album on track 1 with the Encore Intro, with Karisma, a phenomenal turntablist.
Follow that with the Configaration Interlude where Mr. Chuck D himself introduces you to Configa, U.K. Hip Hip producer extraordinaire. After all, this is his album. What better way to introduce yourself then having your Hip Hop music idol do it for you. Hard work does pay off, my friends. Configa is proof of this.
Want’s a chill vibe? Listen to track 3, “From the Soul”, titled appropriately. Craig G brings it to us with some great lyrics talking about how you need to stay on the grind if you want to succeed. Keepin’ it 100. “From the soul, through the lips, across the mic, and out the speakers” he tells us. Exactly.
Configa throws some instrumental tracks into the mix on this album, which if you really listen and pay attention to, you can hear alot of throwbacks to the golden age of Hip Hop (usually considered the mid-80’s to mid-90's). At first, I have to admit, I was thinking, why are these so long, but they actually accompany the album quite well because when they are playing in the background, they kinda put you in the zone. That’s when I told myself, look at the source. He knows what he’s doing, and it worked exactly how I assume he meant it to, to put you in the Hip Hop chill zone. Mission accomplished.
Right when you are in the zone, track 7, “U Make My Day”, starts playing. It throws you off because you are hearing this old school jazzy house music sound, which being a house head, I was thinking, wait, what’s this, I hear? And then, indie artist Sulpacio Jones starts singing to it, with this smooth jazz bar voice pulled right from back in the day. This song shows Configa’s versatility as a producer.
But wait! There’s more. Go to the the next track, and you hear…Reggaeton? What? Oh yes I did say that. UK Raggaeton Hip Hop? You heard me. “Pop Off” features U.K rappers Si Phili, Fdot1, Serocee and U.S. rapper Corporal AK in a mix of diverse rhymes and rapping styles which is truly amazing. I love this track. It’s a very unique song which I love listening to.
This is where Chuck D comes back to let you know he’s still chillin’ with you in in the track 7 Interlude.
It’s time for some “Mind Control”. This track will hypnotize you into only listening to Configa music and that’s it. OK. That’s a lie, but it’s a powerful message. The lyrics are pure genius in my opinion. We have 4 artists in this track who give their own view of how society is being manipulated by mainstream media and commercialism. I love it because I agree with everything they are saying. The first verse of the song, featuring U.K. Rapper Skriblah, contans the most realist, impactful and real-talk lyrics I’ve ever heard. He basically blows up the conspiracy (or reality, depending on your view) of social manipulation at it’s finest. Bravo.
Now, we get to some old school 90’s street rap. “Make ’Em Pay” is about as hardcore throwback as you can get, featuring Green Tank and the late Sean Price of the Boot Camp Clik. It has a dark beat which makes you feel the message. This song takes me back, back when rappers used to talk about what it takes to survive the game, in the music world and on the streets.
“I Am the Truth”, featuring Reks, is another chill kinda track with a message, basically calling out how the Hip Hop world really is now compared to what it should be.
“Yes Yes Ya’ll Remix” has a cool piano loop and features true old school rappers, Grand Surgeon, a.k.a. Will P and Spoonie Gee, the person who basically created the term Hip Hop and was one of the first rappers on the planet, if not the first, which is awesome to hear on this album. This track is awesome, hearing true legend lend his presence to Configa’s album.
I saved the best for last.
John Vietnam, a young Chicago artist who heroically died saving his friend from drowning, impacts this album with his fresh, True-School sound. I have to admit, I got very emotional listening to his tracks, 2 of which bless this album with his amazing presence, not only because because of his heroism, but because he is from a neighborhood I’ve spent plenty of time around, the north side of Chicago. His first track on the album, track 5, “What’s Your Story”, talks about where he comes from, what he stands for and his parents; his father who is a Vietnam War vet and his mother, who was a Vietnamese refugee. Configa nailed the track. It has this cool jazzy funk vibe to it. I can’t imagine this song having any other music then what Configa choose. It’s perfect. John’s rapping is stellar. You can hear his perfectly timed breaths, his masterful story-telling lyrics and his passion for wanting to spread the word of how important coming together and being a part of a community really is. He is a master.
John’s other track, “Be Like That”, closes the album by John rapping about his struggle as an up and coming rapper. I think this is a fitting song to end the album. It encapsulates everything involving the struggle of fighting the negativity of people hating when trying to climb the Hip Hop ladder. It may have other meaning to other people, but this is what I took from the track.
I can’t wait to hear what else is to come from Configa and John Vietnam. As far as I’m concerned, John was, and is, the next Eminem.
This concludes my storybook review of this album. This signifies the resurgence of true Hip Hop, which is synonymous with Configa’s True-School vibe and movement. With the inception his #ConfigArmy (which yours truly help create and is a founding member of), we’ve only seen the beginning of what Configa brings to the Hip Hop world.
The patient has survived the resurrection, but can the patient come back full force? I think so. It’s sure off to a great start.
Do yourself a favor. Pick up Configaration Volume 1.
Welcome back, Hip Hop. We missed you.