Breaking stereotypes at the same time they break records, Fly Gypsy is on that ol’ next Russian and Jamaican shit. Oh word? That’s an unusual combo, but it shouldn’t be that shocking in 2009 (going into 2010) that hip-hop has such global appeal. Shed your preconceived notions that Alexei Jendayi (the producer) should be rocking fur hats or doing squat kicks, or that Kowboy Kom (the emcee) should be a rasta dreadlock spitting patois flows. The norm for Fly Gypsy is that they exist to break you off – your stereotypes, your bad mood, your inability to trust in the new all get broken.
The song that epitomizes the new soul Fly Gypsy on is their lead single “You.” From the opening notes everything about the song is a revelation. Tattiana Aqeel-De Oliveira wastes no time introducing us to her smooth crooning, Alexei wraps her up in smooth synths then slow builds up a tropical beat complete with an unexpected and dope *CLANG* every few bars, then adds a few MORE layers of percussion and horns once Kom starts rapping. All the build up would be for naught if Kom had nothing to say lyrically or didn’t have great breath control, but Kom is clearly open for the woman he desires and trying to impress her as more than the average emcee.
“I miss the universe the way I use these words
Hey hey hey lil’ cutie, let me write you a movie
I can make you up, I can make you real
I can wake you up on what I make you feel
Close your eyes, let me describe for you a beautiful place
Just use your mind, and through the while me and you can escape
The palm trees, blue skies, it’s a beautiful day
We on the warm beach and calm breezes coolin your face
I’m feedin you from a plate of fresh fruit, can you taste
the pineapples, the kiwis, the juice from the grapes
drippin drippin off your lips, let me get it with a kiss
And if you like the way I’m writin then we can flip the script
for the next scene, sex scene, wet stream, wet dream
Deep sex, deep breath – wait don’t scream yet!
Let it build, and when it feels like you gonna explode
Just let go”
Now tell me that’s not more impressive than 95 out of 100 ballers who want a woman to bounce with them based on their iced out jewels and big Bentley parked out front. If the shorty that Kom sang this song to didn’t want to go make a movie with him, I’d be disappointed, but when Tattiana croons “always losin my control” there’s little reason to not believe she (or the object of Kom’s affection) is wide open. Not many rappers should try to get away with comparing their love to a video game but when Kom says “I move your soul like a game control pad/when the song done I let you gain control back” it’s fresh and believable. Had Fly Gypsy stopped here the listener would be impressed with their steelo, but “Change For a Dollar” has six more tracks showcasing their new flavor. “2 Step” has nothing in common with Cassidy and Swizz Beatz, and that’s just fine – though the use of slick R&B samples is comparable to Kanye. “Go” has Kom busting up his flows to an energetic guitar rock backdrop and additional vocals by David James, with a message meant to offer hope to the downtrodden. “Strengthen Me” puts Ebony Jackson over ivories as Kom wants to be the father to his child that Edo.G preached about so long ago.
“Sometimes I smoke when I write, and I don’t usually smoke
Feel like I float when I write like I can fly with the smoke
Can God use my throat? I feel much less than a prophet
Can I use these quotes to be a blessing to my pockets?
My daughter’s got six years on this Earth, I was there for her birth
Feel like a little piece of heaven sent to hell here on Earth
And ever since then, all hell is gettin worse
And I ain’t scared of much, but I’m scared for her
So I prepare her for such a time as when she hears these words
With a little more understandin it’ll be clear to her
that this mere mortal man is, here for her advantage
I’ll put bandage and manage and no matter what happens
No tears for her dad, fear isn’t a language we speak
that is established, she will see what I preach
But she will hear what I practice, it is also established
that a man isn’t a man if his speech don’t match his actions
And vice versa, I will life like I would like for her to
want a man just like her dad is, and he know he needs to
shake my hand if, he ever wants her hand in marriage
And if I’m already vanished he will have heard of my legacy”
I’m pretty jaded about music after 25+ years of listening to hip-hop, but Kom has touched on something deep on “Strengthen Me” that’s far too seldom heard in hip-hop, where keeping it real can also be keeping your family real strong. It’s too early in the career of Fly Gypsy to say they can make a difference, and it’s quite possible they could be a flash in the pan with these seven songs and then fizzle out once the music industry jades them to. Right now at this very moment though, Fly Gypsy sounds like a group that could change what music is and what it should be. There’s more to what they’re doing on “Change For a Dollar” than breaking bills – they’re making a change in the cultural landscape. It wouldn’t work if it was preachy with no dope beats, and it wouldn’t work if it was all fresh music and banal delivery, but somehow when Alexei and Kom partnered up they found the single best person in the whole world to bring the best out of each other. Let’s celebrate their unusual, rare and dope combo.