STYLE: Hip-Hop RATING OUR PRODUCT CODE: 159234-23500 LABEL: Independent FORMAT: CD Album ITEMS: 1
Reviewed by Tony Cummings
If you've followed music for very long you'll be well aware that Chicago, Illinois has long been a creative epicentre with everything from the blues, gospel and house music taking root and flourishing there while as any hip-hop devotee will know it's the hometown of Kanye West. Alert312 are rapper and occasional singer Boogalu and producer Moral One and between them they've delivered this hugely impactful musical portrayal of their much loved, but much troubled, city. Over doomy, sub bass soundscapes Boogalu delivers flows which are infused with anger ("Gargoyles"), reflection ("Cloud City") and compassion for the poor caught up in the maelstrom of Chicago's political corruption and police brutality. Alert312 pull no punches as they reflect on a city where fat cat politicians make dodgy deals in luxury hotels while outside thousands hustle to survive on the windswept mean streets. The gritty subject is communicated without a single swear word or a single phrase that doesn't ring true. Also, unlike many concept albums, 'The Upside Eternal' keeps its focus while never becoming repetitive and, unlike so many social political albums, makes its numerous points but never resorts to cheap shots or shallow slogans. The carefully chosen guests - MRENC, Taelor Gray, Jay Cabassa, Catlina Bel and DJ Efeckto - all add to the cinematic atmosphere that often pervades the album as it deals with the social scandal of the urban hungry "Everyone Eats" or the religious scandal of a church still shamefully divided because of ethnicity ("Colour Graded Agape") the album ends with a rapid-tempo praise song to God who kills fear complete with a short drum solo (surely a first for a rap concept album - but then there are not many of those anyway) followed by a burst of spoken word poetry. All in all a dazzling concept album.
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