Few hip-hop artists have captured the voice of the oppressed, the righteous indignation of the downtrodden and raw unadulterated anger on wax as eloquently for as long as Paris save perhaps Chuck D. On "Don't Stop the Movement," the lead single of "Acid Reflex" P-Dog dubs himself a voice of ire "on behalf of the left wing scared to speak." He might just be right but even the left themselves seem to be scared of the militant polemic he embraces. Think of the most left leaning liberal you know and ask him or her if they can quote from a speech by the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan word for word. Really there's no need to though because I'm guessing less than one in a thousand could. Paris would not only quote from one of his speeches though, he'll actually put a speech on wax right in the middle of a song. What might scare politicos the most about the Minister's remarks is that his message unites the oppressed against the one thing both liberals and conservatives have in common - WEALTH.
"Something is wrong!!
Wrong with the government in which we live
Wrong with the LEADERS that lead us
Wrong with us!
And the way we respond to our enemy and each other
This nation is not about poor people
Whether they're black, brown, red, yellow or white
This nation is about RICH people
And to hell with the weak, the poor, THEY MUST SERVE!"
There's nothing more dangerous in this world than a man willing to speak the truth to people who would rather not hear it; would do anything to SILENCE the man speaking. We've seen this time and again. Even the most peaceful of advocates for change, men like Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., still found themselves violently silenced for their willingness to address the intermingled issues of poverty, racism, disenfranchisement and war. No nation on this earth can claim in honesty to be totally free of any of these four. In the "land of the free" called America you can be dropped from a major record label and banned from Wal*Mart if you dare to voice any opinion about these issues as a musician. The one major advantage living in the U.S. grants though is the opportunity to form ALTERNATE means of distribution to put out your message thanks to freedom of speech AND of the press. That's just what Paris did when he got silenced - took "The Hate That Hade Made" and channeled that anger into his own record label. "Acid Reflex" is the latest independent release to defy the beast, and to anybody who doesn't like it his sentiment is "So What?"
"These streets can only see so much until they say 'So what?'
Let the police cars blow up, it won't be long 'til the ghetto
Can only take so much, of the blame gettin thrown on us
And politicians bodies go numb, from goin dumb, so what?
She was a proud mom, a G.I. Joe mom
Couldn't see they lied for war, she was all for it
Wavin flags, sportin tags with the yellow ribbons
And when she said he was a hero know she really meant it
'Til somebody showed her proof of the ruse
Took her to guerrillafunk.com, for the hard truth
Showed the motive and the profiteering from the mission
She got mad and wrote her congressman but he ain't listen
So she prayed everyday that they
Would pull the troops out the fray, and they would be okay
All she had was her faith 'til the day the news
Came talkin 'bout the roadside bomb in Fallujah
And even though she thought she'd been through the worst
Momma walked into the closet, put the strap in her purse
And went first to the door of her congressman's home
Took his life 'fore takin her own, shoulda known"
Paris is an informed and unapologetic speaker, never afraid to put his views right in your face. Of course there are plenty of people in the world who fit this description but few of them have the deep vocal tone of P-Dog, the clear oral dictation of P-Dog, and the FUNKY ASS BEATS of P-Dog. The words "all songs written, produced, arranged and performed by Paris" inside the CD make it perfectly clear why it took Paris four years to release a follow-up to "Sonic Jihad." Paris took his time to do this shit RIGHT. The menacing "Blap That Ass Up" sounds like Paris is bringing you a live report via walkie talkie from the front lines of a race war. The slow deep funk of "The Trap" could be a Dr. Dre vibe, but Paris isn't laying back smoking chronic - he's smoking the people who control the system.
"Same pigs, same crackas, same niggas united
Buyin into the stereotypes that we fightin
Buyin into the stereotypes of us bein
Buck dancin ass, sex crazed, murderous fiends
Still fuckin up these home-schooled simpleton haters
Same people that display us wanna kill and betray us
Same division, more religion, never reading, just prayers
More bounty hunters, Imus' and Jenas and Kramers
Still blame us for the cause of the way that we act
While lullabies of celebrity still keep us distracted
Keep the focus off the President and shit in Iraq
Keep us scapegoatin immigrants and niggas on crack
Keep the propaganda comin, keep impressin the kids
Seems they only care about us when its time to enlist
Or when them politicians talk about protectin the fetus
But what it mean when they send us off to war and mistreat us"
Paris stays pissed off and serious without getting preachy and boring to a degree only Immortal Technique can touch, and in truth Tech would have learned it from Paris since he's been around for almost 20 years now. Listening to "Get Fired Up" P-Dog even wants to lynch Russell Simmons - yes, I'm serious. Much like Chuck D said on "Nighttrain" years ago, every brother ain't down for the cause. It's not surprising that with this many comparisons between the two, the legendary Public Enemy frontman shows up for "Winter in America," another of P-Dog's pissed off songs with a surprising musical undercurrent that reminds me of Whodini's "Friends." Paris doesn't want to be your friend though. He's okay with you agreeing with his righteous ire, and he's just as happy with you if you hate his guts. The one thing you've got to say about anyone though no matter their political views is that if they talk shit they should be willing to back it up. You may think P is presenting a rather narrow one-sided conspiracy theory "Behold a Pale Horse" version of events from time to time, but you can't say he's not willing to back it up point by point no matter how mad he gets. Combining that kind of intelligence, lyricism, vitriol and banging beats is so rare in hip-hop these days I can't NOT recommend "Acid Reflex," an album that may upset your stomach even as it feeds your head with a whole new kind of knowledge you won't get in college.
Music Vibes: 8.5 of 10 Lyric Vibes: 8.5 of 10 TOTAL Vibes: 8.5 of 10
Originally posted: October 21, 2008