I read an interesting article in the newspaper last week, and having literally bursting to tell you about it ever since. In it, a theory was put forward – with arguments for and against from various luminaries. Here it is: be honest, completely honest. And see how far it gets you.
Sounds like a simple remit for The Project – after all, their album is entitled “The Truth Today” and maybe they have taken on the challenge of telling the truth in everything they put on wax. So if you eat too much turkey at Thanksgiving and are morbidly obese, I should tell you. If your hair looks awful, you smell like a post-gym session first thing in the morning, you’re suicide-inducingly boring, I should tell you. Conversely, if you look good and have achieved something note-worthy, I can also tell you the truth on that too – it is a two-way street.
It sounds such an overly simplistic proposition to put forward but come on, Reader, you know the truth – we all tell the odd white lie every now and then:
“Oh, that new receptionist, honey? You think she’s pretty? I’ve never really noticed.”
“I can’t wait to visit home for my one weekend off this semester, Mum, really.”
“I don’t really think that hip hop is any worse nowadays, it has just adapted itself to new audiences.”
What was wrong with those three statements? The word “really” betrays the sentiment of each sentence. Look again. Either you noticed that hot new receptionist or you didn’t; either you look forward to a visit home or you don’t; either you think hip hop has nosedived recently, or not. There is no in-between.
Except sometimes there is. There are shades of grey – you might be looking forward to going home, but not be happy about the timing, or that tosser uncle who puts you down every single time. Maybe you think hip hop hasn’t dumbed down, it has simplified for an international audience. This is why growing up is so damn hard – let me give you an equation to clarify life, and memorise it:
Knowledge + Judgement = Wisdom
Knowledge without direction is of little use. Judgement is pointless if you don’t know what you’re talking about. But if the two are used well in conjunction, and consistently, then they result in something magical – wisdom. Wisdom trumps all – knowing what decision to make and when. Which (finally) brings me to an interesting album from a group that are in the mould of Little Brother and Dilated Peoples – underground hip hop that blends somewhat conscious lyrics with strong beats, and attempts the occasional cross-over try. In the spirit of things, let’s tell the truth about The Project, no matter what.
There are three MC’s – Jah C, King Gutta and Supanova. One of them sounds a bit like Pras, and he just happens to have a hand in producing most of the album too – fortunately, he is a better rapper than the old Fugees cohort. One of the other MC’s thinks he is the Notorious B.I.G. and the other dude is lyrically tight, but at the end of each track I can only ever the Pras and Biggie clones. The lyrics are really rather good, even if the flow of each MC varies between brilliant and less so. The music is actually a touch too average, and were it not for the strong vocals, this album would be instantly forgettable.
They also seem to be hopping on the dance craze bandwagon with their solid single “The Light Feet” whilst also walking the tightrope over to respectability. Back to the whole “truth” thing I mentioned earlier, they are telling us their own grey shade of the truth. I’m not quite sure why, as there are no standout tracks that will dazzle you (with regards to the subject matter) and having listened to the album many times, I still can’t tell you from memory exactly what it going on. That is the problem with “The Truth Today.”
The truth is, I will not remember this album in a yearâ€™s time. Perhaps the single, “The Light Feet” but precious little else. It is certainly not a bad album, and has a consistency – but it is probably consistently average. I’m not sure that is good enough – I would rather an artist made an impression on me than not at all. Even if they tank on certain tracks, it is better to see how high an artist can take you on the better ones. Lyrically they are solid, and the discovery of an MC like King Gutta shows that there are a few rappers that try to juggle commercial with complex lyrics. It is a fairly promising album, but not the best thing since sliced bread. You wanted the truth, didn’t you?