Hip-hop and folk don’t often intersect, but both have an underdog ethos.
Though they may be at opposite ends of the musical spectrum, veteran Seattle rap duo Blue Scholars and indie-folker David Bazan have a similar working-class call to consciousness in their 2011 releases, both of which can be heard live in the coming days at A Club in Spokane.
Behind the moniker Pedro the Lion, Bazan, who plays A Club on Tuesday, crafted songs steeped in Christianity. That was followed by the high-profile religious themes couched in his solo full-length debut, 2009’s “Curse Your Branches.”
But on his sophomore solo release, this year’s “Strange Negotiations,” Bazan has opened up his subject matter by turning his lens further outward. The result is surprisingly rockin’, recalling his pre-Pedro days with mini-supergroup Headphones.
“Strange Negotiations” opens with the grooved-up pop burner “Wolves at the Door!,” focusing on national politics with vocals warning of corporate greed, as he sings, “Wolves wait at your door/for your permission/slyly you invite them in.”
When premiering the song on his website, Bazan said on his blog: “It’s clear now that ‘trickle down’ is actually ‘vacuum up’ and yet working-class people continue to vote against their own economic interests.
“Wake up! Anyone whose primary vocation is ‘making money’ is a predator: they may wrestle around with you for a while but eventually they’re gonna go with their instincts and kill and eat you.”
Hip-hop heavyweights emcee Geo and deejay/producer Sabzi have reunited under their Blue Scholars flag this year with “Cinemetropolis,” their first full-length since 2007’s “Bayani.”
Tonight’s show at The A Club is the kickoff for Blue Scholars’ first national headlining tour.
The new record melds music and pictures through rhythm and poetry. Sabzi’s emotive beats and melodies cater to narratives Geo strings along the lines of pop culture, social commentary and media slavery.
While rapping about the recession and how it relates to race politics through examples in movies such as a “Menace II Society,” “Boyz in the Hood” and nearly anything by Spike Lee, Geo connects reality with fantasy on heavy issues as well as everyday struggles.
And yet his wordplay remains light with lines like, “I’ve been dope since you had to get up to change the channel” and “They said that I’m the king of my jungle and they ain’t lyin’. ”
“Cinemetropolis” was funded entirely online through a Kickstarter campaign, where 2,200 fans pledged $62,391 in 45 days. It was the second highest-selling album on Bandcamp and broke into iTunes’ Top 15 hip-hop chart on the week of its release.
Blue Scholars partnered with a variety of filmmakers to produce both music videos and short films inspired by the album, including tracks “Fou Lee” (directed by Canh Solo) and “Slick Watts: A Day in the Life of Seattle Without the Sonics,” directed by Jason Reid and Adam Brown.
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