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Rahiem Supreme’s anticipated project arrives, as does a new video from Jay IDK, and some crippling truths courtesy of Oddisee and Phonte. Per the usual, enjoy the Breaks.
Rahiem Supreme’s Lost Gemz
Rahiem Supreme’s long-awaited Lost Gemz project was released this week, and its arrival was well worth the delay. Whether it was intentional or not, there’s a distinct genius to the title, as it references the D.C. rapper’s position within the hip-hop galaxy. He has yet to attain the acclaim his ability warrants, making him somewhat of a lost gem. His latest should be the end of that lack of recognition.
The pace is set by “Motivation,” an intro featuring audio taken from old 2Pac and Notorious B.I.G. interviews. The words of hip-hop’s most celebrated martyrs were included to highlight non-societal influences on Supreme. Like both, he fashions himself the voice of a generation, and he uses Lost Gemz to share his generation’s frustrations, as well as his own ripe wisdom.
“Keep Your Eyez Open,” which begins with a clip from the barbershop scene from Belly, is an ode to staying aware in a world that can kill you in multiple ways. “Reflection” is Supreme’s realization that perhaps he isn’t above the ills he speaks out against. The subtle, melodic “Soul Symphony” finds the rapper sharing his mistrust of the government, a recurring theme in his music: “Read between the lines, you can probably find some bullshit/Covered up, switched, and buttered up, more shit/False information in this nation as we livin’ a lie.”
“Ain’t No Love” stands out as the most socially relevant inclusion on a project with many political tracks. Supreme references the alarming number of unarmed African-Americans killed during confrontations with police, specifically 18-year-old Michael Brown, who was fatally shot by former Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson last summer. There are other stand-outs—like “Freak Nasty,” which boasts an enchanting sample, and the autobiographical “Bring It Back 2012″—but “Ain’t No Love” effectively captures the sense of wit’s end anger.
Overall, Lost Gemz rides an overt ‘90s influence to success. If there’s a flaw, it’s a repetitive style. But with this release, Rahiem Supreme becomes the cogent mouthpiece for a generation whose actions have left others bewildered at times.
Visualizing Jay IDK’s Hunger
Last month, I waxed poetic about Maryland rapper Jay IDK’s hard-hitting “Hungry.” The track’s video premiered this week, accompanied by a simple message from the rapper: “The video is simple. Just pay attention to the lyrics.” He’s right—the video is simple, which is what makes it perfect. Dark and crisp, it’s just him bouncing through the streets, passionately expressing what motivates him.
As for those lyrics, well, they’re just as crisp. “If I was homeless with a can, instead of shaking it/I’d find a stick, turn the can over, hit it, and make a hit.” Hunger breeds innovation, which is the essence of good art.
Requiem for the Fallen
Fresh from the release of Diamond District’s March on Washington, Oddisee and Phonte (of Little Brother and Foreign Exchange notoriety) begin 2015 with the sobering “Requiem.” Both communicate the struggle of being a person of color in America right now with spot-on accuracy. Whether it’s being a black man or trying to board an airplane with the name “Amir Mohamed,” there’s a collective exasperation that’s felt in Oddisee’s rich yet somber production. Phonte sums up the feeling of defeat succinctly: “I’ll be honest, man, I’m runnin’ out of shit to feel.”
The song can be found on the upcoming Mello Music Group release, Persona, which is due out on March 10.