Stress Boogie-Outerspace (Remastered)…The Review

     Where were you in 2010?, What were you listening to? What were some of your specific interests 10 years ago? Were you earth based? Did you manage to keep everything within our atmosphere or Did you find joy in letting your mind wander to far off places like say the outer realms of space? If you can safely answer any  of the aforementioned questions then you can safely board the rocket that is primed and ready to blast off courtesy of Stress Boogie and his Epic release…Outerspace.

“Outerspace Intro” opens the album with an awe-inspiring sample that would make Ray Bradbury jealous, Barry White narrates out pending journey much like the Opening crawl of a Star Wars film. After that Stress enters the rocket and proceeds to lay out what our journey will be about based on the intro alone, we’re in for a wondrous ride.

“Move” sets things in motion with a crunchy guitar riffed instrumental that grabs you from the opening chords and holds you captive until you’re in orbit safely. Stress doesn’t let the track breathe with his lyrical assault. It feels as if every bar is a declarative statement, braggadocio at its finest, superb follow-up track.

“Sugar”  has us floating through space as we listen to Boogie, Dox, and Roman Caldwell wax poetic on the sweet saccharin that is otherwise known as Black women. Every superlative is at play here when describing why black women are so dope. Normally I’m not a fan of “songs for the ladies” but here it works, maybe I’m maturing.

“Fly Interlude”  continues our trek into space, it’s a quick jaunt into the unknown as Stress gives  us humorous Superman anecdotes before we pick up speed a bit and head right into “Fly”. It’s such a dope instrumental that you forget it’s a double entendre. The song makes you feel fly, and you’re actually flying through space, trust me on this.

“Driving By Myself” is definitive rider music. The stuttering Hi-Hats has me zoning like I breezed past a star at its most serene. Stress’ hook abilities are understated but they are on full display here. This track coupled with “Fly” and “Sugar” makes a seriously funky tandem and adds to the no-skip factor of the record so far. Daria Jones slinks her way through the tracks and just brings it’s all together.

“Devotion” sounds more like a Confessional to me. Here Stress peels back a few layers and lets us in on how he fell in love with Hip-Hop and exactly what it took to get here. Wayne Steakhouse, and Nye Taylor come through with their talents. The Spoken word and Sung word are a most welcome addition and take the track to another level. I know this was a Coffee Cave collaboration, somebody prove me wrong.

“Memories” continues our slow traverse through the galaxy. Earth is getting smaller by the light year but the track is so hypnotic and captivating that you may miss the fact that it is a two verse story. The first verse is about growing up with the have and have nots, trials and tribulations, but triumphing over all. I’m sure all of us can think back to the times when we grew up and ended up going separate ways because life. The second verse is a memory about an old crush that ended up becoming a fling after graduation. A true coming of age tale. Awesome track.

“Station Break” sends things into warp speed as Stress takes time on our trip to shout out our hometown and the folks that help made the album up to this point possible…Hard instrumental and I don’t care that I have a thing for guitar riff loops, next to pianos, it makes every song better. “Get Mad” is truly an interlude/skit  so I won’t spend too much time on it, but I will say that the words here are timely, when you hear them, you’ll understand.

“Spell My Name” marks the return of the Braggadocio raps. Declaring himself “The Ben Grimm” of Hip-Hop” made me smile because at this same point in time my moniker was “Hank McCoy”….if you know…you know.

“So Long” keeps  much of the same energy of the former albeit with a much more “spacey” beat. At this point of our trek, Stress informs us that we’re passing Saturn, I thank him for that because I almost forgot we were supposed to be counting the planets, I was too busy listening to the space age grooves.

“Time of Your Life” almost caused me to not finish the album honestly. I say that because I got stuck listening to every facet of the track. The soulful Greg Perry sample flip had me gone by the first chord. Let’s call it what it is, Stress Boogie is a Master, equally as impressive on the mic as well  as behind the pads. Synergy.

“On My Way” is a soul stirring effort and is part inspirational, part motivational. The flow is crispy as he catches every pocket. The lushness of the track as a while is something that tells me that Stress was on a mission with every track. Mission accomplished.

The album closes out with “Boogie’s Lament” and “Turn the Beat Up” respectively. Both tracks are equally captivating while being sonically diverse. With Lament, the track literally cries and coos, truly becoming a timeless record. “Turn The Beat Up”  has us reaching our destination with self assured lyrics and a sense of completion. I’m ready to meet whatever life form that is on whatever planet we landed on.

     Saying that his album “Outerspace” is nothing less than a journey through the traverses of his mind is an understatement. Let me be clear, the album IS a journey to the outermost…HIS outermost….His thoughts, loves, and passions. A clear and concise effort that showcases a true tour de force for an artist..no a creative at the height of his powers. If you want to hear vintage, authentic Hip-Hop at its purest, Look no further than Outerspace…it’s definitely worth the trip.

Those Flippin’ Samples

     Sampling is the life blood of Hip-Hop music in its entirety. It is very literally the foundation of the art form as a whole. An art form based on deconstructing conventional music making methods. Since its inception in the early 70’s, The “break beats” from popular funk and soul records of the day, provided the soundbed for what we know as “Rap” music. What once began as simple loops for the MC’s to rock a party, it quickly gave way to more advanced techniques as time and skills of the MC’s and DJ’s/Producers progressed.

     As defined by various sources, “Sampling” In music, sampling is the reuse of a portion (or sample) of a sound recording in another recording. Samples may comprise elements such as rhythm, melody, speech, sounds, or entire bars of music, and may be layered, equalized, sped up or slowed down, repitched, looped, or otherwise manipulated. They are usually integrated using hardware (samplers) or software such as digital audio workstations. Many if not all producers in Hip-Hop use the technique as a form of self expression, oftentimes speaking through the music itself based on the part(s) that are used.

     Hip-Hop titans such as J Dilla, Alchemist, Stress, Heatmakerz, Just Blaze and Madlib have all become legends by continuously finding new and innovative ways to sample music. I often took much joy in trying to figure out just what was on their mind when creating. I’ve spent countless hours looking up the original compositions that inspired them. It became a game to me and it would often leave me astonished when I discovered the sample. Most times it would take me listening to a song at random and immediately recognizing who interpolated it. It’s truly an exhilarating experience.

     As we all continue to venture on into the future, I anxiously await new rap projects to sink my teeth into and absorb. I’m listening to see where many of the modern day Miles Davis and John Coltranes of Hip-Hop are going to take the artform. A lot of the younger producers have begun to sample tracks from the 90s and early 2000s and that makes me even more happy because that lets me know that sampling will never die. The possibilities are truly endless.

For The Funk Of It….

     

As a kid growing up in the 1990s, My mother made it her personal mission to expose me to different soundscapes. Many of my earliest memories were ones of me and her jamming and dancing to Parliament Funkadelic and a host of other Funk/Soul acts from the 70s. You couldn’t tell me I wasn’t a 5 year old robot when “Flashlight” or “Bop Gun” came on. Even though I was supposed to be sweeping or vacuuming, once the music began to echo throughout the house, it was over. For every rap song I heard during that time, My mother made sure I knew the original composition that it came from, which allowed me to have a greater appreciation for every genre I was exposed to.

     Once my mother saw that I was taking a real liking to the music, she soon began to explain the meaning behind many of the album covers that piqued my interest. Imagine seeing a man hanging out of a flying saucer (Mothership Connection) or being mesmerized by a Black Man who was later explained to me as Atlas holding up the globe (Slave). Being a visual learner, seeing and absorbing the cover art was equally important as the music itself. Earth, Wind, and Fire, Slave, and Parliament/Funkadelic each captured my imagination early on with their coded messaging in the music.

     All throughout the music of the aforementioned acts, laid certain ideals and perspectives  that allowed me to grow into a sense of consciousness that I’m sure I was far too young to understand at that time. I feel as if my mother knew that once I got older, I would return to each of these albums with more knowledge that I gained throughout my experience of just being a black boy living. As a kid, hearing “Get Up for the Down Stroke” sounds like it’s just a heavy bassline and fun grooves, until you turn 18 and register to vote and it hits you. Seeing pyramids and glyphs mixed with space technology( EWF’s Raise!) introduced me to the early concepts of Afro-Futurism that is just now becoming mainstream.

     Funk music on the surface seemed like fun music with infectious grooves, and kinetic energy pulsating  throughout it all, but that was indeed the candy. The ideals of being self-conscious, socially aware, fearless and uncompromising were and still are the medicine. Much of today’s music cannot be fully appreciated until you take that trip to the past and discover what the artists of today and yesterday are really trying to impart to us. Everything that you’ve learned about music as a tool is true. What you do with that information will make you a better artist/creative in the long run…If you so choose.