Bekay :: Hunger Pains
Coalmine Records/Diamond Music Group
Author: Steve 'Flash' Juon
Bekay's name is far from a coincidence - when you say "Bekay" you say "BK"
a/k/a Brookyn. This rising star of underground hip-hop has been repping his home
to the fullest ever since he first stormed on the scene in December 2004 with "Where
Brooklyn At?" featuring the late great Ol' Dirty Bastard. At the time I could be
counted among the skeptics who thought Bekay was simply riding the coattails of
a fellow Brooklynite without really being established in his own right, but in the
five years that have followed Bekay's worked extra hard to prove he's
his own man. One thing hasn't changed though - he still reps for Brooklyn just as
much or more than M.O.P. The Posse tends to focus on Brownsville, while Bekay
favors supporting the borough as a whole, and he's moved from rhyming with
late greats to Juice Crew greats like Masta Ace who are still alive and kicking.
The DJ Babu produced and scratched "Brooklyn Bridge" showcases both nicely:
Bekay: "The big city of dreams, feel pity for fiends
Gritty shifty in schemes, pretty shitty it seems
But we walkin on the gold mine, lovin this place
Ace, Babu, Coalmine, up in your face
Along with - introducin Bekay on the mic
I stare right at Flatbush Ave when I'm prayin at night
Some pack gats, leavin other cats blasted
And even the white chicks be rockin fat asses
Always hot, not just when the summer here
Coney Island cyclonin it, or jumpin on the wonder wheel"
Masta Ace: "I'm from the B-R-double-O-K, L-Y-N
If I wasn't, then why would I yell I am?
You see, this be the home of Spike Lee
Folks think it's dangerous - I don't know it might be slightly
But that depends on which blocks you be steppin down
Cause certain neighborhoods they never put they weapon down
I lived in Flatbush, grew up in Brownsville
And every now and then you see me around Steele
I used to hang a lot in Bushwick, Decatur and Evergreen
Some of the best parties you ever seen"
Both rappers reminisce fondly about their past days in Brooklyn, while noting
that their love for their borough is tempered by gritty reality: "there's crime
everywhere, it ain't fair, but who care?/Not the governor and not the new mayor."
Still you can't help but feel upbeat over the bouncy piano chords, and the cuts
in the chorus from MC Lyte and MC Shan stitch the whole presentation together
nicely. Even the fadeout of the song is exceptional - the music gradually drops
out just leaving the finger snap that kept the tempo of the rap. This Brooklyn
tribute has legs long after "Hunger Pains" comes and goes from store shelves,
but so does the rest of the album. It may be that Bekay wrote "I Am" to avoid
being stereotyped as "the rapper from Brooklyn who only talks ABOUT
Brookyn," but whether or not that was his intention he's certainly captured the
universality of hip-hop over the Alchemist provided keys:
"Yo the feeling you get when you hear an ill line
The pad you scribble your rhyme into to kill time
I guess I'm kind of Summer Jam
I'm the larger rap than Kid 'N Play and the Running Man
Nowadays everyone wanna be this
From, MY, A-DIDAS!
Shell toes, I'm Luda throwin elbows
How you wear your pants, where you rock a cell phone
I'm battlin for hardcore props
I'm breakdancin daily on a cardboard box
What other flavor could, have kids pumpin
N.W.A. in an all white neighborhood?"
Solid production, well crafted rhymes and memorable guests are three hallmarks
of dopeness throughout "Hunger Pains." The eerie whistling backdrop of the Marco
Polo produced "Pipe Dreams" perfectly suit Bekay and special guest R.A. the
Rugged Man. Illmind lives up his name, as only someone demented would take
some seemingly folk/hippie music samples and make them "Crazy" enough for
Bekay and Heltah Skeltah to rip on. It may be that Saigon, Inspectah Deck and Bekay
were an unlikely hip-hop trio, but Street Orchestra makes them sound like a brand
new offshoot of Wu-Tang on "The Raw" and links it all together with Notorious
B.I.G. and U-God samples. Even the album's closing bonus track keeps the hits
coming, as Dilated Peoples come heavy on the "I Am" remix to bring New York and
Cali together on the same cut. All of this is doper than a mo'fo but it's still nice
to hear Bekay flow on his own, and songs like the Shuko produced "Bloodsport"
prove he's more than up to the challenge:
"What's a battle to you with savages too?
I don't just win 'em, I duplicate what cannibals do!
Leave you locked in the basement, man on fire
Cut your fingers off, sew 'em back in opposite places
Type sick when I mic grip
and shave your face with the same knife quick you just got sliced with
You whine a lot (PUSSY!) Find your cock
Yo these biters jock, even my writer's block
I'm rap's last oracle; kinda like
if I didn't want my pen to write, God would force it to!"
DAMN. So what more can we possibly say about Bekay? He loves his
borough - check. He's got great punchlines - check. He has an all-star team of rappers
and producers helping him shine - check. He's great on his own even without them -
check, check, check. It's time to put that skepticism aside that Bekay simply gets over
by where he's from or who he associates with - he's as universal as the hip-hop vibe
he so eloquently articulates on "I Am." Whether you're from Brooklyn, Boston,
Boise or Belem, Bekay has got some hip-hop shit that you've been hungering for
whether you knew it or not. One hit will make you fiend for more, but the only cure is
to get his album and get one hundred grams of his uncut to the gut.
Music Vibes: 8.5 of 10
Lyric Vibes: 8.5 of 10
TOTAL Vibes: 8.5 of 10
Originally posted: November 3, 2009