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May 1, 2008

{     Common Market - Black Patch War EP     }    


Let's just go ahead and get this out of the way upfront: This is not an EP. I know it's labeled as such in the press release and that it will be listed as an EP when it hits retail, but trust me when I tell you that there's more material and depth layered into the 7 tracks that make up Black Patch War than what you'll find in a dozen full-lengths from the reigning Top 40 crunkbuster crowd. This thing drops with a weight that can only be described as monumental, courtesy of lyrics penned, chewed up and spat back by RA Scion with devastating production from Sabsi (of Blue Scholars fame). The energy between these two is chocolate and peanut butter, start to finish, the whole piece has that "MC/producer collab hall-of-fame" feel, you're def hearing a couple of heavy hitters at the top of their game. And this is just the lead-in to a full-length?
That's the word, with their Tobacco Road LP set to hit in September.
It's blowing my mind to think it's even possible to follow this piece up that quickly, but the foundation is definitely here and after seeing what these two are capable of in 7 tracks there's no doubt that they've got the momentum to keep it going. Black Patch War is one of the smartest, freshest and most listenable slabs of hip-hop I've heard in a long while.

RA and Sabsi's love of early 90's west coast hip-hop is worn proudly on their sleeve, and you feel that influence in the dense-yet-deft wordplay heard throughout the piece. This is married to beats and background that run the gamut from street bangers (the title track) to backpack crunchers (27) and maybe even a little bit of club love (Trouble Is) giving the album a variety and depth that reaches beyond easy categorization.
Black Patch War also explores a variety of themes in a rather unique manner; through the framework of the historic Black Patch Tobacco War, an uprising of rural farmers against a larger corporate structure that threatened their livelihood in the early 1900's. While this may seem strange territory for a hip-hop album to veer into, it's surprisingly effective given RA Scion's own upbringing in western Kentucky and his ability to cleverly juxtapose the historical with the personal. What is revealed is a very complex and compelling analysis of race, economy, social inequity and spirituality, all expertly dissected and laid bare through discussion of, and comparison to, this moment in history.
If that sounds a bit heavy, it kinda is. But it's delivered in a way that's easily digested and incredibly compelling, I never feel like I'm being preached at or didacted to, it's more like I'm just riding shotgun in RA's subconscious. He speaks at eye-level, never condescending, and the struggles that are illuminated (both the personal and the historic) feel all the more real thanks to this. This is independent hip-hop at it's finest, fighting a Black Patch War of it's own against an industry bent on homogenizing and controlling the creative output of those involved in the game and turning a profit off them. This piece Night Rides all over the industry standards, leaving them bruised and bloody in their wake, proving that style and substance can co-exist within hip-hop.
Black Patch War is set to be available May 9.

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Sold. I'll put this on my radar....

Posted by: Garrett Shane Bryant at May 2, 2008 6:41 PM
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