At first glance there was a lot to hate about the Procussions, to the point where it felt like a shadowy conspiracy wherein some vaguely evil button-pusher at Rawkus Records had burrowed into my brain, picked through the cobwebs, jotted down every musical mannerism that grates on my last nerve, and funneled it all into the ultimate weapon of my own destruction in the form of this group…at first.
Let’s go down the list, shall we? This trio hails from Colorado Springs, CO – not exactly a hip-hop haven. They are self-professed Christian rappers whose stage intro in concert is a synchronized dance we’re supposed to accept because they’re “rap”, and whose lead personality, the ridiculously monikered Mr. J. Medeiros, sounds exactly like Zach de la Rocha without the rage. In fact, everything about the Procussions is somehow borrowed from somewhere else, be it conscious rap, nouveau-soul, or revivalism, and thrown into the pot like so much jambalaya, and my first spin of their Rawkus debut, 5 Sparrows For 2 Cents, was cynically flipped through with an admitted bias. It wasn’t until I went back for my review listening session, where I listen with a bit more attention for references, potent lyrics and general message, that I suddenly – startlingly – remembered that, in the right mood, I love jambalaya.
I’ve since tried to pinpoint where they won me over, but every time I’m on the verge of a revelation I fail. But I can say for certain there is some highly electric activity beginning with Talib Kweli-assisted “Miss January.” Easing into the album with a wistful post-Kanye beat, the emcee runs through the loves he’s lost through the years and concludes: “So here I sit at the bar amongst these stargazers/Caught in the crosshairs/The target of a heartbreaker.” A bittersweet simplicity pervades the majority of the tracks, shouting out both God and Cameron Crowe with equal aplomb, and some momentum picks up quickly. “Untitled” is a needless, clumsy attempt at Beastie-style claptrap but the very next song, “Little People” – a mournful plea for greater attention to AIDS, school shootings, et al – is a highlight. The entire album plays like a group who wants to try everything and generally bats about fifty percent. The Procussions are not hesitant to fail utterly, and they do several times here, however they have the resilience to pick themselves up and kill it on the next one, a quality so rare in today’s rap field where both the major label thoroughbreds and the meticulously backpacked bohemians groom every detail for maximum crossover impact. Can’t hate on that.
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