My bad for not posting these last shout-outs from the Hip Hop for Justice event earlier, but had to do a lot of research to get ’em right.
Gotta hand it to Mandeep Sethi, the 21-year old rapper representing SFSU. In the past few years, he’s gone on tour along the West Coast, Spain, the U.K. and India among other locations. He represents the SF chapter of Universal Zulu Nation and has performed alongside acts such as Ziggy Marley, Camp Lo, Michael Franti & Spearhead, RZA, and even the great Afrika Bambaataa. He had an especially busy 2009 (releasing the Deacon LF-produced album PALEOFUTURE and an Egyptian-inspired project with MC Sakhu and Povan Beats entitled SET & RA), and he has shown no signs of slowing down in 2010, releasing The World’s Gone Mad EP and more online tracks under the name X33.
I have to say how much I admire his use of internet and social networking sites to share his music. In addition to facebook and twitter, he connects through soundcloud, myspace and bandcamp, plus has a LinkedIn profile, the backing of the label Organik Rebirth website, and countless other spottings on the web. Now that’s hustle!
But there’s much more to him than just the music. Sethi has also worked as a youth organizer and poet mentor at Definitive Education where he uses hip hop as a medium to teach elementary, middle and high school students “to empower themselves through words and music.” [From East-West magazine interview, Oct 26 2009] Staying true to that mission, he always injects fresh and powerful messages into his songs. Sethi says, “I rap about issues that are occurring around the world like genocide, famine, the negative aspects of capitalism as well as things affecting my local community.”
His continuing efforts making him definitely a person and artist to watch, someone that hip hop culture needs these days. Wish him best of luck on his tour with Humble Poet in Canada this month!
On Bandcamp, you can download PALEOFUTURE and SET & RA for free and pay-your-price for The World’s Gone Mad EP. What are you waiting for?? Here are some helpful links:
Rhythm Natives‘s self-titled debut out October 19th. Self-released, available on the group’s Bandcamp (rhythmnatives.bandcamp.com) and website (www.rhythmnatives.com)
Upon seeing The Roots in concert several times and seeing some of my favorite hip hop artists performing with live musicians, I have to say that seeing hip-hop performed with a live band is a much richer-sounding experience (no offense to the rapper-DJ combo). Growing up in the early 00’s, the members of Rhythm Natives form a six-piece band that shares a common love of hip hop and live instrumentation and delivers such an experience. Their music is rooted in the Los Angeles indie hip-hop scene and shares many similarities of their Los Angelean genre-blending counterparts. Specifically, RN’s brass sections and rockability are reminiscent of Ozomatli‘s work without as many activism viewpoints, while the soul and funk influences are very much like Orgone‘s “Cali Fever” release from earlier this year. While Rhythm Natives comes together to produce an organic mix of many genres, they are certainly hip-hop oriented, and the rapping duo of Exaktoh (Glen Techico) and Kreative Thought (Jon Narboneta) evoke the light-hearted and clever exchange of People Under the Stairs or the short-lived Colorado Springs group The Procussions.
The challenge for any band that becomes popular through live performances is translating that to the recording studio. Rhythm Natives makes a natural progression here, keeping the percussion sounding real and interesting and letting each instrument stand out in the mix for the listener. “Take Off (Intro)” is a simple yet well-crafted opening number that hints at the multi-dimensional potential this band has. “Move” featuring Farmer JohnEric takes the same excitement of an Ozomatli jam and expands upon it with entertaining wordplay, offering perhaps the album’s best cut. “Miss Universe” is a chill jam that feels like it belongs on an Ohmega Watts record, however the backing instrumentation tends to be more interesting than the lyrical subject matter here. “Make Up Your Mind” is a definite highlight in the band’s songwriting skills but also in large part due to the uncredited female vocalist. This flows right into the exciting “Holdin’ It Down” featuring Miss Jenn K and the funky soulful “Trust Me”, showing off the band’s versatility in playing to different moods and styles. “So Fire”, the album’s first single, is a gorgeous rush of chord progressions with a beat that surely could make people drop everything and dance in the streets. One possible drawback for the listener and that may keep RN from achieving more airplay may be the occasional obscenities that surface and seem unnecessary at times.
Overall, Rhythm Natives’ self-titled debut is loaded with many interesting and head-nodding tracks, worthwhile guest spots (Bambu, Farmer JohnEric, Miss Jenn K and battle rapper Kronic Plague), and does not miss a beat. While they are not breaking much new ground in the genres they mix and the lyrics they write, this album definitely belongs in anyone’s collection of organic-sounding hip-hop and is sure to work generously in promoting their live performances.
-Ion The Prize
Rhythm Natives is:
Bojo1 – drums
Chezzy Chez – keys
Chooboy – bass
Mart – guitar
Soy – DJ/band photographer
Exaktoh – vocals
Kreative Thought – vocals
Asi Friedman – producer
1. Take Off (Intro)
2. Move (feat. Farmer JohnEric)
3. Miss Universe
4. Make Up Your Mind
5. Holding It Down (feat. Miss Jenn K)
6. Trust Me
7. Mess With (feat. Kronic Plague)
8. Lost Angels
9. So Fire
10. Like This (feat. Bambu)
11. Take Off (Outro)
For the band’s take, check out the video below: