After not being up on the dopeness of Psalm One for all this time, I got a swift kick in the nuts in 2006 as a WAKE THE FUCK UP call. First I had the chance to see her rip up the stage live in concert, then I was blessed to review her re-release “Bio:Chemistry II: Esters and Essays.” As if that wasn’t enough, another straight shot to the cajones was just unleashed on the Rhymesayers record label in the form of “The Death of Frequent Flyer.” How many more intellectual rap nerds and gangster rap poseurs does she have to leave doubled over in pain before people take notice of her dopeness?
Hopefully none. By linking up with the Rhymesayers, Christalle Bowen has national distribution for her new album. I didn’t have to order this online or catch her at the merchandise table at a show this time – it was sitting on the rack at ye locale record shoppe, just waiting to be purchased and unwrapped. Anticipation was a bitch – I had all these other albums to review first, and the majors have been relentless about having three or more new releases all summer long. Finally the day has come and Psalm One gets her due, and like all those hip-hop heads who were up on her years before me “The Death of Frequent Flyer” is a chance to see whether she exceeds high expectations or her plane goes down in flames.
“Sorry ma but I’m flippin these lyrics infinite
And I don’t give a shit if you don’t like the mainstream
Influence who is banging, stop the ha-ting
Push pens ’til I rip the looseleaf
I’m a kitten, what KISS the pussy
Get cheese and a little bit of bread
But please stop sleepin on the sizzlin midwest
And please stop sleepin in my bed
Don’t worry I’ll be thinkin ’bout you when I’m receivin my head”
As the rap from the title track suggests, “The Death of Frequent Flyer” is by no means a stalled engine or a mechanical failure for Psalm One. In fact the rap femme fatale sounds more tuned up and revved to soar over the heads of competitors than ever before. Thaione Davis produces the track and guest raps on it, but a lot of the production on this disc is handled by Overflo. A slow and somber groove meets the inner city violence Psalm articulates on “The Nine,” while whining guitars and deep bass at the same pace provide a much more uplifting boost on “Macaroni and Cheese.” Whether Psalm needs a salsafied beat to rip to on “Beat the Drum” or a sly bluesy harmonica to reveal her inner soul with on “The Living,” ‘Flo provides the mojo while Psalm One provies the flow:
“She, wakes up ’round four A.M.
And then rolls with the snooze so she can snore again
You see, she’s sleepy from the night before
Was on the porch since ten with the gorgeous pen, y’know?
Another sun, another bill to pay
Another cynical squeal to golden seal your fate
It goes, C to the R-I, S-T – Alle
Got a few private poems but the rest are for sale
Headed to jail from 6 to 3
So I can bask in the misery of mystery meat
Sizzlin a bit, my supervisor pissin me off
Cause I don’t share her dumb allegiance to reality shows
Reality blows, let my ego go
She just mad when I leave cause I got somewhere to go
And my real life begins when I step out the do’
And it don’t revolve around +Queer Eye+, +Millionaire Joe+
But it’s a living!”
Other producers are equally up to the task though, as Madd Crates opens with a swanky smooth beat for a surprisingly nasty diss of “Rapper Girls” where Psalm calls out lesser competitors with lines like “yeah you might BLEED but you can’t rhyme PERIOD.” Ouch. Ant provides the boombap for “Standby” and cameos on it with Brother Ali, and the combination is dopeness personified even though they’re all pissed at honey roasted peanuts and the indignity of all forms of security which turn “simple wisecrackers into hijackers.” V-Traxx come with the futuristic beats yet familiar beats on “Let Me Hear,” which allows Psalm One to come off softly spoken and hit even harder as her diction comes crystal clear even at a whisper volume. Once in a while though to find something dope you need to go for broke and step outside what you already know, and let the chips fall where they may. If you make the unfortunate assumption that Psalm One has nothing to offer just because you’ve never heard of her before, or that a female MC can’t be as dope or not doper than her male counterparts, give your “Frequent Flyer” miles to me instead and I’ll be more than happy to use them.