Artist: ShambhalaTitle: The Lotus Of…Rating: 3 1/2 StarsReviewed by: Dev 1
For many of us, the extent of our knowledge of the Washington D.C. music scene circulates around the musical art form known as Go-Go. Let me tell you, of all places, don’t sleep on the Mid-Atlantic! Simply put, the region that encompasses Virginia, Maryland, and Washington, DC has been cooking up something marvelous for the avid HipHop, Neo-Soul, and Afro-Soul listener. Over the last 8 to 10 years, the mid-Atlantic region has delivered an interesting brand of the music we love. We have witnessed the likes of 7Heads Entertainment affiliated act Unspoken Heard and we have seen Poemcees grace the stage of Def Poetry Jam. On the low, Infinite Loop and Fertile Ground have made their mark. In a cinch, the synthesis of Hip Hop and Neo-Soul has developed thoroughly in this area of the world. If this development has been enough for you, then too bad! Prepare yourselves for Shambhala and their debut LP The Lotus of
Comprised of the two immensely hungry artists and talented Lyricists, (Agua and Born Infinite), Shambhala was formed approximately one and a half years ago and is positioning themselves to make a distinct mark in the world of Hip-Hop. The Lotus of combines lyrical intellect, powerful voice, rugged wordplay and sharp verbal panoramas with the Buddhists ideology. Reminiscent of early nineties acts such as The Boogie Monsters and Wu-Tang Clan and similar to Jeru and Afu-Ra, Shambhala humbly provide the listener with crafty lyricism and a hardcore enlightened spiritual experience without sounding overly self-righteous.
The Lotus of opens and closes with Buddhists mantras or chants. The fact that they use these mantras exemplifies a uniqueness in creativity thats lacking in much of todays Hip-Hop. Hip-Hop is an art form that, at its very core, explores every way of expression imaginable. Many of todays artists have been using the same played out mold in their production and lyrical substance. Shambhala clearly breaks that mold and steps toward taking Hip-Hop forward in a progressive evolutionary manner. Following the intro, the Axiom produced Monastery Gladiators is the ideal opening track for this album as they spit flames at all malevolent beings. The track itself depicts the western movie ominous guitar type appeal. Agua and Born both rip the mic heavily and ride the track with crafty cadences. In Monastery Gladiators, a track that can be likened to Hard Margin by Black Star; Born Infinite says, Television, radio clones could never notice; the thief in the night coming quick when heaven opens. Study the I Ching, read the book of five rings and you can find things beyond the vision that your sight brings. On Enlightenment, produced by Young Raven, Aqua clearly states, How many hoes you bendin means nothing to me, reluctant to see the science behind them sistas mystery. Young Raven provides a military type cadence on this track, which serves perfect for lyrics centered on the mental warfare. The Lotus of is a complete album through and through; other songs to be mentioned are African Sunflower (a HipHop ballad), Kithikais Song (depicting a safe haven for the troubled mind), and The Wind (depicting a seen but unseen force). The soundscapes provided range from hard-hitting boombap, to tantric patchworks, to the beautiful jazz aesthetic. And you best believe that Agua and Born lace the tracks with heartfelt lyrics that address many of the issues that Hip-Hop needs to address. This makes The Lotus of a completely dynamic and vividly constructed album. One might ask, how was the album constructed as opposed to composed? Well, this album illustrates a lesson receiving instruction from top down and on building from the ground up.
The Lotus of contains tracks like African Sunflower that could receive notoriety on any Hip-Hop station across the country. However, it lacks the crossover appeal that could take it to the next level. I still dug the album upon first hearing it, and after multiple playbacks; I am convinced that Born Infinite and Agua have stumbled upon something prolific. With continuous effort, there is no reason that heads across the country should not be bumping their music.
All in all, please believe it; this album is something to reckon with. If you are sick of sorry music with no substance that addresses the same superficial issues; then, by all means, breathe fresh air. Shambhala will probably receive a bulky underground fan base, by which it is well-deserved. Unfortunately, the five entities that run the industry will be reluctant to see the necessity for an album such as The Lotus of .. Quite honestly, you cant deny the truth and we shall see if this well-crafted piece of art can do as their song Leaving Everything Else Behind says and stand the test of time .divine.
For more information on Shambhala go to www.199records.net and check it for yourself.