Take a break from whatever you're doing. Turn down the music and turn off the television. If you listen hard enough, you might be able to hear him. He's got something to say. I have serious doubts that you have ever heard of him, let alone bumped his music. If you take the time, though, you just might find he will hold your attention with the best of them. Point your ear towards California, and you'll hear a fresh voice worth hearing.
From the outset of "Rhyme + Revolution," it is apparent that Qwiet is on the other side of the spectrum. He explains his purpose in the first few bars:
"I spent my whole life searching for what was right under my nose
Seemed like everywhere I looked, the tundra was froze
Under a dark sky, the ocean was dry, the land covered in snow
And the thunder rolled, but one day from my slumber I rose"
"All I want is to be someone who grows
Someone who goes for everything he wants
To be someone who knows
What he's here for and here after
So I write this next chapter in the book of life
And the climax is laughter"
Jeremy Nelson, AKA Qwiet, knows exactly what he is trying to achieve. He makes his intentions clear in his bio on the website. To paraphrase, he is tired of what he observes in hip-hop and the media in general. "Rhyme + Revolution" isn't political, at least in the sense that most "conscious" rappers are. Qwiet is not looking to spout conspiracy theories, he just wants to relate what he sees in the world, point blank. Check out "Move On":
"Turned on my TV, what did I see
I bet you guessed it, rapper A and rapper B
Surrounded by naked girls from A to Z
Now I'm trying to understand what they're saying to me
Spitting random words, most beginning with F
And ending with funny noises, I'd rather be deaf
…OK you got some cars and gold bracelets
And you like to get high, congratulations!"
His rhyme structure isn't terribly complicated, but he gets his point across. He goes on to angrily explain the dangers of drinking, questioning exactly why that lifestyle is so attractive. Qwiet is so passionate about his topics that I had to step back and wonder about certain things I hadn't before. Why is it that our nation was so hypnotized by the video to "The Thong Song"? Why are millions of people tempted by drugs? When did our nation decide that an athlete is a hero who should be paid like one? Qwiet makes his point clear with descriptive rhymes and a passionate delivery.
The "rhyme" half of "Rhyme + Revolution" is represented as well. A few battle tracks are strewn in between his observations of the American Way. "Rhyme Champion" and "8 Bars" feature Qwiet directing his heat towards fake emcees. These two are forced, though. He isn't a battle-rapper, this much is evident:
"Don't consider this a warning, consider it your demise
Consider the significance, your lies are unwise
Thought nobody would realize, consider the surprise
Open your eyes in the morning, consider the sunrise
Feel it, you can sense the presence
The triple crescent's imbedded into your quintessence
True confessions, subconscious lessons
Everlasting impressions from long forgotten sessions"
He has a lot more to say on other topics, like what angers him in society. These tracks are essentially just throwaways. He goes through the motions on these songs, saving his abundant energy for the "Revolution" half of the album. I can't really blame him for trying, though. After all, what kind of rap album doesn't have any bragging?
Qwiet doesn't have the nastiest verbal skills. He's not blessed with the smoothest voice. He doesn't go for shock value. So what exactly is it that kept me listening? Passion, pure and simple. He spills his ambitions, frustrations, and fears all over this disc. The concepts aren't always executed in the best fashion, but the intent is always there. At times his voice is a bit irritating, and he certainly doesn't have an extraordinary vocabulary, but when this emcee is on a roll, I'm not stopping him. His enthusiasm for the subject carries "Rhyme + Revolution" when other elements lag.
Originality on the lyrics tip, as most artists know, doesn't necessarily carry over to the production. Unfortunately, this emcee needs a blessing from a couple of more capable beatsmiths. The liner notes' listing of "all songs written, produced, recorded, and mixed by Jeremy Nelson a.k.a. Qwiet," while admirable, exposes his flaws as an artist. There aren't many rap musicians who have skills on both the mic and the boards, and Qwiet is not an exception. The beats waver between smooth guitars and violins, with an occasional piano stab. They never step beyond mediocrity. The drum programming never outdoes itself either. To his credit, he never tries to do too much, something that has plagued aspiring producers for the longest time. The result of this is that his soundscapes, while not of poor quality or difficult to listen to, aren't the least bit intriguing. They are professional, and not much else. In the context of "Rhyme + Revolution," with the emphasis on the two Rs, Qwiet's dull production doesn't cause too much trouble. It does, however, hold a decent album back from being great.
Qwiet has found his niche in the rap game. He does something on the mic that very people bother doing. Personal observations and insightful comments abound when he steps into the booth, and the result will leave you thinking. There are significant flaws in "Rhyme + Revolution" that detract from the quality of the album. The cookie-cutter beats and forced battle tracks try, but they can't hold down the passion that Qwiet flashes on a majority of the record. The fact that he is far from a top-notch emcee makes his lyrical success that much more impressive. He makes the most of what he has been given, and with some production help, he will continue to make better records. He'll keep spitting if you're willing to listen. In fact, I don't think it even matters. I get the feeling that Qwiet will continue to rap until he can't anymore, regardless of whether people notice. And I can't help but admire that.
Music Vibes: 4 of 10 Lyric Vibes: 7 of 10 TOTAL Vibes: 5.5 of 10
Originally posted: April 27, 2004