Album of the year: Brown Ceasar - 4 Tha Crown (17.9%)
Brown Caesar 4 thA Crown
[HIP-HOP] The greatest gift an MC can have is a recognizable voice, and Portland’s Brown Caesar (formerly Santotzin) certainly fits that bill. While his lyrical stick-and-move brings some comparisons to mind—a touch of Cypress Hill’s B-Real, a little GZA, perhaps—his voice is pretty unique: conversational, boisterous and empathetic all at once. On 4 Tha Crown, Brown Caesar uses that talent for good, coming across as that rare bully who stands up for the little guy; the introspective, thinking thug.
On “Clarity,” Brown Caesar speaks to everything from his own run-ins with the law to the street community he calls home and wanting a better life for his sisters. He raps: “Killer, drug dealer, but I’m realer/ And trying to do the right things with bigger/ Vision than most who still living in close proximity to Brokesville, population me,” before slipping back into self-preservation mode.
Even when he’s not talking about building a better community, B.C. is more elegant than most of his peers. On “Hip Hop is Hardcore,” he skitters across a throwback funk beat, painting a compelling picture of the music as a creative refuge from a darker urban reality. He explains the struggle so well on the string-fueled “Thought U Knew” that it provides a better understanding of his swag on the hard-repping, sprawling title track.
But B.C.’s finest moments come to pass when his songs’ conceits match the uniqueness of his voice. The Latin-tinged “Movement” is a smart, bittersweet epic that manages to mesh a damning indictment of U.S. capitalism with a brief salute to murdered Portland MC Blue Crush. “T.W.I.O. (Working Man Anthem)” is even more radical, and it finds B.C. outshining guest MC Killah Priest by spinning rhymes about government corruption and environmental destruction that doesn’t sit right with him. Having a voice is a gift, and Brown Caesar knows how to use his. That’s revolutionary. CASEY JARMAN.
http://blogs.wweek.com/music/2010/05/26 ... sar-pdxtc/
Buy: http://browncaesar.com/2010/09/brown-ca ... wn-lp.html
or on iTunes: http://itunes.apple.com/us/album/4-tha- ... d371225150
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