“Bayani” is not an English word. Rather, it’s a word with Filipino and Persian origins, meaning both “heroes” and “the Word”. A more fitting title could not be applied to the Blue Scholars second major label release.
Preview: Blue Scholars – Joe Metro
This duo from Seattle, Washington formed because of similarities with one another. Both Geologic (emcee) and Sabzi (producer) have parents who have immigrated to the United States. This allows and provides for a unique cultural and historical perspective of both past cultures and present happenings and life styles. These cultural influences are omnipresent throughout “Bayani”, as the album starts with a chanted healing prayer. The album then goes on, carries through anti-war sentiments, a song fitting to rally troops (somewhat contradictory, but that’s alright), immigrant stories, and odes to Seattle. The tracks are streamlined seamlessly, and the album closes with an tribute to Seattle’s public transportation with “Joe Metro”.
The reason this album is so well done is three-fold. First, while Geologic has a slightly monotone flow which may take some getting used to, it’s his ability to ride Sabzi’s beats perfectly that really sets him apart. His breath control, especially in certain sections, is impeccable. He has the ability to construct any sort of mood he’d like, whether it’s completely introspective or to annihilate your own thoughts and opinions to get his point across about a social or political issue.
Secondly, the other half of the duo, while relatively quiet personally, is certainly impossible to go un-noticed on this disc. Sabzi creates such lush soundscapes on each and every song, using a variety of different instruments and trademark sounds such as blaring horns, flute ensembles, soothing piano loops, blaring horns, and extra crisp drums. Third, it’s the chemistry between these two that is absolutely undeniable. That is the most (if not one of the most) important factors in a successful duo. It really is difficult to tell who benefits more from the other…whether it’s Geologic for Sabzi lacing him with incredible instrumentals, or Sabzi, for having someone who’s able to take those instrumentals and take them to the next level.
Honestly, this album is an experience. It clocks in at just about one hour exactly, and for you to listen properly, it needs to be taken into a quiet room, seduced (jokeeee), and listened to in it’s entirety. It might take you three or four listens for it to finally click, but once it’s clicked, it’s easy to see why these heroes are well deserving of a medal of honor.
Words by: Andrew Lonczak
More info: Blue Scholars
Check out the INTERVIEW we had with Sabzi (Blue Scholars) here.