Have you been searching for a new ode to loving hip-hop like it was physically embodied as a gorgeous curvaceous full grown woman? Ever since Common dropped "I Used to Love H.E.R." back in 1994, it seems like the one topic most rappers think they can do as well or better than Lonnie Rashid Lynn, but only a few can even come close to how well he articulated the sentiment. Nevertheless the demand for a brand new booty is persistent and emcees keep on trying to deliver it, the latest being the Melbourne, Australia born rapper Bias B. On "In Love With the Music," the opening song off his new CD "Biaslife," the lyricist teams up with producer Lazy Grey to take his own crack at what's becoming a rap standard:
"I fell in love with you at such an early age
My parents didn't like her, tellin me to stay away
I couldn't fall asleep at night, you made me feel so good
So I promised you that I'd keep it as real as I could
You trust me? A little rusty, you taught me a thing or two
To have control and how to hold it when I'm hittin you
Flippin over you, on the sofa boastin too
Tellin all the blokes in the scope on who's devoted true
Every word I wrote for you
You let me hit it every night like you're supposed to do
Up in the studio vocal booth, gettin vocals truth
I've got you open like my Subaru sun roof"
It may seem from the opening paragraph like we're taking the piss on Bias B, but honestly "In Love With the Music" isn't bad even if it's a retread of the same old theme. B's lyrics feel heartfelt and sincere and Grey's mellow melody accents it well. Speaking of accent, that seems to be a contentious point for some past reviewers. Given I seem to review more Australian hip-hop albums than most blokes in Yankeeville, there's probably a chance I am biased (no pun intended) toward the vocal tone, but given how easy it was to transcribe his rhymes I don't think his Melbourne flavored vocals are that thick or hard to aurally digest. Let's bottom line the issue for "Biaslife" - if you could rate hip-hop emcees with a Richter scale of understandability with 10 being a total disaster of epic proportions, Bias B comes in at around a 3 to me - a barely noticeable tremor. Some popular rappers in the U.S. are a 7 even on their best days.
"Biaslife" is not exceptionally long, clocking in at just under 45 minutes for 12 songs, but makes the most of that time to make an impact. The swinging Doc Felix beat of "When I Sleep" enables Bias B to try a staggered flow fans of Twista would easily recognize, and to this critic's ear he has the timing down. Tinkling ivories set off The Statesmen produced "That Feeling," as B lays his claim to greatness with the words "Lifetime membership, walkin through this Hall of Fame/they mention Aussie hip-hop, they're gonna talk my name." "Melbourne City" featuring Tali is another rap standard, paying tribute to the place that you come from, with the key difference being there are hundreds of hip-hop songs about New York City or L.A. and only a handful about this Australian enclave. His song stands out on that basis alone, but it's hard not to want to book a flight to the land down under as he praises its virtues:
"The streets breathe with a Southerly breeze
She smothers me with her sweet motherly touch and suddenly I'm free
Up above I hear the rustle of trees
Another gust, autumn has fallen, streets are covered in leaves
The seasons change, streets freezin, teaming with rain
Dreamin of days of seein thirty-three degrees in the shade
I love to see the waves racin up the beach on the bay
Sea breeze babes in bikinis, man I'm leadin the way
Even the nights of three degrees she keeps me feelin okay
I see no reason to be leavin, only reason to stay
That's Melbourne City"
At the core the strength of Bias B's raps is his pride - his pride in being Australian, his pride in representing Melbourne, and his pride in being a prominent hip-hop artist from either one. It's not quite what one would call arrogance, but he does possess a feeling of confidence in his ability that gives him a commanding presence even when paired with a strong beat. Even on an all star track like "Here I Come" featuring Fluent Form and Lazy Grey, B's performance still stands out. Success hasn't made B oblivious to the challenges of succeeding locally or nationally, as the dark ominous Discourse beats of "Rap Life" enable him and the always angry Maundz to rant about doing shows for no dough while everybody has their hand out to take a piece of what little you've got. Bias B is a fine combination of the skill to be good and the wisdom to know it ain't always all good, and that's something more emcees on either side of the ocean should master. This is a very solid and enjoyable effort.
Music Vibes: 7 of 10 Lyric Vibes: 7 of 10 TOTAL Vibes: 7 of 10
Originally posted: August 23rd, 2011