One of the biggest mistakes that one can make while listening to music, and in life, is to close one’s mind against a particular kind of product. And I made this error years ago, when I decided that no kind of hip-hop or rap is going to appeal to me. I lived that blunder for a few years before I came across a band called Flobots. Grooveshark told me that the genre that Flobots belongs to is ‘nerdcore’, basically rap that is about things that ‘nerds’ like, including politics and Star Wars. Although this definition made me quite nauseous, I decided to give this band a try anyway. And I realized that music that can change your mind is definitely good music.
The first song I ever heard by this band was the song “Happy Together” which was the cover of the song of the same name by The Turtles. Another cover of this song that appears in the Original Soundtrack of “The Great Gatsby” was suggested to me several times, and as good as it is, I like the Flobots version much better. Turning an old song to rock is, honestly, not very original to me. But listening to Jamie Laurie make that song more contemporary than any other cliché was a priceless experience. The one song convinced me that Flobots was a band that would definitely make it to being one of my favourites.
The debut album “Fight With Tools” that was released in 2008 was the album that assured mainstream success to this band. The entire album is one album of spoken word poetry, and nothing less, and if you are interested in politicized lyricism and words full of raw rebellion, then this is the album that you need to listen to. The singles, “Stand up” and “Rise”, are exceptional. “Anne Barden” and “There is a war going on for your mind” are my favourite tracks off the album. But I suggest that the whole album be given atleast a cursory listen. What I love about this band is the generous use of the cello in their music, an instrument that has always intrigued me, and something that I never associated with rap or hip-hop. The lyrics are meaningful, original, and not sexist, and the rap is catchy. What more can one ask for in music?
Similar kind of music that I discovered eventually was Macklemore & Ryan Lewis. Although not as political as Flobots, but this rap is also very different kind of rap and will definitely appeal to people who want to enjoy the hip-hop without the constant talk about how much money the singer has, or about how many ‘bitches’ the singer has had sex with, or how they love their ‘gangsta’ lives. There are other similar bands too, and the availability of music online will make it very easy to find similar music. But here are some personal favourites of the same genre.
- MC Lars “Yes I am an alien”
- Macklemore & Ryan Lewis “Wings”: The consumerism related lyrics are especially fearless and I loved it.
- Macklemore & Ryan Lewis “Same Love”
- Optimus Rhyme “Worms”