In the skit proceeding Wu-Tang’s “Can It All Be So Simple” RZA talks about his favorite time: “’87, that was my shit! Polo and shit!” That classic cut was done in the early 90s, which, compared to the turbulent 00s, seem like a really simple time. Remember when rappers weren’t getting popped? Or when Kid’s high-top fade was cool? And when African medallions were popular as hell?
Bien’s three-song release, simply entitled “e,” harkens back to this time. And while he succeeds at recalling the days of yesteryear, one begins to question if he actually does it on purpose.
The rhymes don’t get too complex. “e,” for instance, has Bien comparing himself to the dopest drug around, while “maxx to this” has him saying you gots to chill like EPMD. The most creative cut is “wax jobs,” an song about the ladies that begins with an erotic pornofied “Oh, oh yeah.” Despite the over-the-top intro, Bien is pretty sincere with his words
“Let me tell you my philosophy
To me it’s not about makin G’s
Or about the condo, the lease
Or living on Park Street like Monopoly
To me life’s like an odyssey
At the end of the trip is monogamy
A wife, kid, dog and a property
Harmony, humble, love to be
Keep it moving like a husky team
Ever since I was a lusty teen
Strokin’ chicks in a magazine
Always had somebody mad at me
Now you can tell that I’m a prince or your majesty (bow down)
Yet it doesn’t hurt to dream
Bien sounds like MIT
And it’s like that, capisce?
I’ve been doing it since ’93
It’s time for the calvary”
He’s a rapper, but Bien’s beats are pure house, like they were collected from some late-80s/early-90s cuts. His stuff isn’t super danceable, but for lack of a better comparison Latifah’s “Come Into My House” comes to mind. Hell, everyone was jamming to that back then, but Bien’s producer isn’t 45 King and hip-hop isn’t using house beats anymore.
To make it more challenging, each beat has an ambient feel to it, as if the producer is wandering trying to find a rhythm. I’m actually a fan of popular ambient producers such as Aphex Twin and Squarepusher, but along with Bien’s sleepy voice most buyers might be hard pressed to continue listening.
Props should always be given for people doing something different, but unfortunately Bien’s EP is repeating a style perfected a while ago â€“ and done much better then, too.