Blue Scholars :: Bayani :: Rawkus Records
as reviewed by Rowald Pruyn

Welcome to Revolutionary Cooking 101. Mix two tablespoons of conviction with a cup of ideology. Carefully blend in a teaspoon of exotic cultural notion. Add some seeded and chopped aggression. Don't overdo it. Stir-fry and finish with a whiff of Marxist theory and a bowl of brown rice. Eat "Bayani" preferably when lukewarm.

Lots of lyricists dish up topics as they are served to them from their direct surroundings. The Blue Scholars, who recently signed to the revitalized Rawkus Records, address injustices well beyond the summer block cook-out. Not malt liquor and Buffalo wings, but ‘Marxist theory mixed with Baha'i spirituality,' as they mention in their bio. Here is a first taste of their style on "Opening Salvo":

"It's not right how they barter our leaders and target our children
Disrespect our sisters and wonder why we're militant
Peace to my Third World equivalent
Even I can't fight besides you, I write what I can
To get our fam in other lands to understand your pain
Because your beef is mine and we're one of the same"

DJ Sabzi and MC Geologic, second-generation immigrants whose parents' roots respectively lie in Iran and the Philippines, have embraced a cosmopolitan musical menu. The word Bayani, which means ‘the divine word' in Persian and ‘heroes (of the people)' in the Filipino language, acts as a signpost of those ideas.

The Seattle-based former college students have warm sentiments for the anti-WTO movement. "50 Thousand Deep" is a vivid first-hand reconstruction of the violent WTO-protests in 1999, better known as the Battle of Seattle. They oppose the US military presence in Iraq on "Back Home" due to the pointless nature of war: ‘Bring ‘em back home/For my brothers and sisters who have been gone too long/ Bring ‘em back home/I don't want to continue singing this song.'

Originally a spoken-word artist, Geologic presents himself as a humble musician on "Ordinary Guys." His tone-of-voice resembles a docile version of LMNO. His hoarse throat brings forth syllables in a medicated way, as though he needs one single breath to reconsider his words before speaking them out loud:

"I'm just an ordinary guy
Ignoring all the hype, I let it all pass me by
I got one life and one mic, but I'll try
To always stay humble, with the fist in the sky
And a bowl of brown rice"

Before Sabzi, the other ordinary guy mentioned in the previous song, ventured into chopping and slicing records for his beat recipes, he was schooled as a classical jazz pianist. He divides his attention between Blue Scholars and Common Market, another DJ/MC duo out of Seattle. The beat crafter of Iranian origin uses an array of horns, jazzy piano keys, frivolous claps and drum patterns to create a soothing auditory bath for Geologic's zealous contemplations. His rich musical background comes best out of the woodwork when he gets a bit more room outside of the regular loop circuitry, like on the nostalgic visit to growing up with hip-hop "Morning Of America." A swaying solo guitar over a serene organ beat provides for one of the highlights of the album.

Please remember to take moderate portions of "Bayani" when consuming to avoid after-dinner dips. Some meals look and smell easy on the stomach, but can be quite demanding in the end. Add some salt to your liking if necessary.

Music Vibes: 6.5 of 10 Lyric Vibes: 5 of 10 TOTAL Vibes: 5.5 of 10

Originally posted: May 22, 2007