Blue Scholars: Bayani

Blue Scholars wear their ideologies on their sleeves. The three years between their self-titled debut album and its follow-up, Bayani (Rawkus) have been remarkably turbulent. Let it be the politics of government, cultural developments, or economic depletion, there are opinions to be had and to be shared. On their sophomore LP, MC Geologic and DJ Sabzi have polished their styles. Geo’s passion for spoken-word blends with Sabzi’s eclectic taste as a classical and jazz-trained pianist, a fan of ska and punk with, of course, influence from the Hip-Hop boom-bap era. The unlikely pairing of flavor creates poetry over beats you can dance to. The album’s strongly-enunciated lyrics can either leave you in tranquillity or make you want a tranquilizer, dependent upon the mood. Bayani opens with “Baha’i Healing Prayer,” a spiritual chant relative to the title of the album. Reflective of Geo and Sabzi’s cultural backgrounds, the word “Bayani” can be found in both the Tagalog (Filipino) and Farsi (Persian) languages. In Tagalog, the word translates to “heroes (of the people)” and in Farsi, “the divine word.” The short-lived follow-up “Second Chapter” carries an enlightening and carefree beat, one of the album’s hottest. From here, the album only escalates into the soulful expression of reppin’ Hip-Hop in Seattle. The jazzy rhythms of “North By Northwest” and “Ordinary Guys” host Geo’s, somewhat redundant and tiresome theme, plea of his humble nature.  “Loyalty” is a soothing crossbreed of the organic undergrowth from Foreign Exchange’s hit track “All That You Are” and DJ Sabzi’s electronic plug-ins. Geo pays allegiance to his family and friends. It’s back to politicin’ on “The Distance,” which recounts a typical tale of a working-class immigrant, escorted by a dark melodic Philippine dance song. “50 Thousand Deep” recalls the 1999 Battle in Seattle at the World Trade Organization protests. The Blue Scholars might seem pretentious at first, but their music is meant to be empowering. While DJ Sabzi creates a solid foundation, Geo constantly challenges our rights and questions our freedoms, with the only intention to motivate change.  

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