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by
1 January, 2002@12:00 am
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“I am a part of that population that grew up listening to P.E., Rakim, KRS, Tribe Called Quest, De La Soul, Jungle Brothers, N.W.A., Kane, Slick Rick, Doug E. Fresh, Stet, MC Lyte and too many others for me to name here. That population is partly bored and partly saddened by the music that is dominating radio, T.V., and print media nowadays” writes Asheru in the liner notes of Soon Come, an album which is a testament to the true skool of hip-hop music.

What Asheru writes is true – longtime hip-hop listeners have become bored with the music, which has led to many of them choosing one of three paths. A) They’ve learned to adjust with the ever-changing face of the music – accepting that while artists like Jay-Z or Dr. Dre may be making commercially successful records, they are still making quality rap music – no matter how far removed from the essence of hip-hop culture it is. B) Listeners have become so tired with the trends, the endless biting, the negativity, the annual formulated albums, and the music of business, that they have abandoned the culture completely. C) The listener is sick of the what is perceived by the media as hip-hop music in 2001, and has chosen to dig deeper underground, searching for groups that subscribe to the ideals of the golden age of this culture, attempting to re:define it over ten years later.

The Unspoken Heard has picked the third choice, and not only subscribes to that idea, but also takes an active role in preserving the culture through their music. Whether it’s reminding us of the days when hip-hop was fun, on light-hearted anthems such as “Jamboree”, “B-Boy (We Get Shit)”, or “Smiley (The Woh Woh Song)”, or more serious and soulful selections such as “Soon Come”, “Think About”, and “Soul”, their interpretation of this artform shows that they respect it, with the intent to resurrect hip-hop’s golden age.

The production is handled by some of today’s finest crafters of throwback tracks, ranging from the heavy pianos of J. Rawls, the jazzy guitars of the Sound Providers, and the vibey, electric relaxation of Geology. While lyrically, Asheru and Blue Black don’t have the same amount of finesse that their fellow Seven Heads family member, J-Live does, or even some of their peers (Common, Mos Def, The Roots), there are certainly people that are creating the same brand of hip-hop music, just doing it better than the Unspoken Heard. While at times, the song structure may seem a little sloppy (“Elevator Music”), witnessing the laughter and fun everyone is having during studio sessions of “Smiley” or “This Is Me” (the latter spotlighted by a memorable freestyle from Chill Will), the listener can’t help appreciate them, simply because they appreciate the listener. Without sounding clich鬠Asheru, Blue Black, and the 7Heads family, are in this for the art and preservation of a dying culture, more than the fame or the money. While they may not be delivering the incredible battle rhymes or poignant social commentary in their rhymes, it’s nice to know that in 2001, groups like The Unspoken Heard still exist

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