Blue Scholars: Bayani


Blue Scholars

As the most significant creative art form of the last 20 years, rap music is curiously devoid of even small traces of irony. The music's power derives from its base sincerity and righteousness. But sometimes its earnestness walks a thin line between urgent passion for expression and pretentious preaching. Coming out of the Northwest with a horse pill of sonic and lyrical expansion are Blue Scholars, a duo who constantly straddle that line, in an attempt (mostly successful), to let the masses know the real deal.

It doesn't help, first off, to give your LP an awfully artsy title, and begin it with a Baha'i healing prayer. Self-importance is better when it comes off as bad-ass instead of holier-than-thou. But once the music kicks in, with Sabzi's soothing soul leanings and fuzzy rhythms, it doesn't matter much if you're politically active or not; to quote the Coup, Blue Scholars are militant, but ultimately (at least through their sonics) are here to "laugh, love, fuck, and drink liquor/And help the damn revolution come quicker." Geologic is the only MC featured on the whole disc, and his flow is gymnastic enough to carry the weight, even if his heavy stew of activist rhetoric and consciousness-raising will be too sobering for the party people. That's too bad, as we just don't have enough artists like the Blue Scholars nowadays. In my book, they inspire by continuing to find significance in the power of hip hop for edutainment—no matter how silly it may seem to the horny shorties too young to remember PE, and the jaded old-schoolers broken by the corporate takeovers. Go West, young man!