CyHi Da Prynce- Black Hystori Project Revisited
This is death of the trap
If you sleepin' on me, gon' enjoy the rest of your nap
I'm tired hearin' fake niggas and they regular raps
They right, I guess there ain't no real leaders left on the map
Not even the most Talib of the Kwelis can craft an album (or even mixtape, as these mediums become increasingly interchangeable as time goes on) these days without adhering to some basic formula. The hype, #turndownforwhat song. The song for the ladies. The these-bars-are-proof-that-I-rap-better-than-you or my-life-is-a-lot-better-than-yours song. And so on and so forth. The artists can’t really be blamed, because the ugly truth is that art is controlled by corporate executives that couldn’t tell a Van Gogh from a 4th grader’s Crayola doodle. Or a Basquiat.
"Ask me if I'm on the radio, I'm prolly not
But I don't do it for the radio
I do this shit for Basquiat"
Cyhi Da Prynce’s camp is probably frustrated. The frustration has nothing to do with any sort of expected career trajectory, but falls squarely solely on my shoulders. I reached out to his camp about an interview in which they accepted, but the plans fell through due to scheduling conflicts on both sides. Obviously, I'm appalled that I wasn't able to make it work, but I have none other than myself to blame. So appalled. Speaking of that, I first heard CyHi on Kanye West’s “So Appalled” track from My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy. Despite rhyming alongside Ye, Push, and Jay, CyHi had the best verse on the entire song. I've been a fan since. Rare is it nowadays that an artist can create music with both substance and appeal.
"How you a gangsta but on Instagram emoji-ing?
In America, niggas dying over pussy
In the Middle East, they dying over petroleum"
"The last thing I'm tryna be is fresh when the feds is watching
No disrespect to my nigga Chainz
But, when the feds really watching, that shit'll wreck ya brain"
But even though I was a fan, I was floored by his latest project. Although it went largely under the radar, CyHi Da Prynce released a brilliant mixtape this year entitled Black Hystori. According to CyHi, the tape came about after his newphew was assigned to write a black history essay and didn’t know who to write about. In an interview with Complex, CyHi disclosed the full story: My newphew wanted to do a black history project on me, and his teachers told him I wasn't that monumental or that important to do a black history project on...so I said 'ok,' I'mma just do my own black history project. I thank the said misguided teacher, because the end project was 75% of my listening material for 2014.
CyHi, the G.O.O.D. label mate and sometimes Kanye ghostwriter (instrumental in the Yeezus sessions) felt that he should write about himself as already mentioned, but the project is much more than a biographical sketch. If I would have managed to get the CyHi interview in time, I would've asked "what the hell were you thinking releasing this as a mixtape instead of an album?" He has yet to release an actual studio album, but all of that is for the birds. With Black Hystori, we have an amazing project in our grasp. Our stomachs are fat with turkey, and there is good music to listen to. We should be thankful.
Due to recent events affecting the black community, CyHi’s Black Hystori was released with perfect timing. On the tape, CyHi virtually expands the depth of African American culture, speaking frankly about various issues and giving credit to the hereos of yesteryear. But the songs are not along the lines of those boring black history lectures you heard during grade school. Cyhi uses Huey as a metaphorical image to convey how real he is compared to the other posers in the game. For instance, on “Huey,” referring to the late black activist Huey Newton:
“I make music for the world
You make music for a stripper bitch."
Personally, the most gripping aspect of the tape is how CyHi criticizes contemporary black culture without coming across as some aspiring professor emeritus-type rapper who is the president of the National Backpacker Association of Excellence. On “Is It Me,” CyHi examines the degree to which rappers are willing to fake details of their lives to come across more street to their audience. CyHi speaks as a man who has extensive knowledge of the things many rappers scribbled on their notepad and created their life, and he has no qualms about calling them on their bullshit. But CyHi's approach is more Native Tongues pre-Lil Wayne than anything-- tough love interspersed with motivational moments. On the song "Be Great" he encourages black men to git up, git out, and git something. On "Mandela," he takes the approach of a commander attempting to rally his troops to make necessary changes.
"Don't get me wrong my nigga, I endorse the streets
But you won't support your kids, but go support the freaks
Last night at the club you blew like a quarter key
But when the feds come you can barely pay your lawyer fees?"
"Is it really me, cause I ain't really feelin' these
New rap niggas, pardon my siliquoys
But honesty is what we really need
Ran with a crew of cap peelers, but that wasn't really me"
Although it seems to change depending on what mood I’m in, the song I find myself coming back to the most is “Barry White.” Drugs and hip-hop seem to be synonymous these days, as many artists glorify the lifestyle that was birthed in the Ronald Reagan era. On “Barry White,” Cyhi explores the crack epidemic that literally destroyed families in the 80s and 90s, and the reverberations are still felt to this day. Despite cold hard facts that the CIA under Ronald Regan’s incumbency was responsible for bringing the drug into black communities, Regan is still regarded as the pinnacle of what a president should aspire to be. However, CyHi doesn’t share these silly beliefs. With a smooth Barry White sample, CyHi chronicles the introduction and eventual rise of the crack epidemic, starting with the 70's going all the to the contemporary era. He paints a poignant image of race being destroyed an extremely dangerous substance, and is on a self-professed mission to Barry (Bury) White (Crack)-- aka eradicate it from the black community altogether.
"And our daughters, missin' with no Amber alert
Prolly with some lil boys with they hand up her skirt
Her mama dance and go to church, even got married twice
Cause her first husband got indicted for that Barry White
That's why I'm here to Bury White"
Some would argue that the purpose of black history is install the belief in African Americans that they are an extraordinary people, despite historic propaganda to the contrary. On this note, CyHi gives a little history of his own life on "Cydel Young." A lot of people might take the content as self-aggrandizing, which is a common staple in hip-hop. But it is virtually impossible to stand in the face of adversity and come out victorious without a firm self-confidence in yourself. In "Cydel Young," CyHi relays his early struggles while at the same time signing his own praises, and subsequently aligning himself with the black heroes he spends much of the tape big-upping.
Thinking of school in general terms after reading about what CyHi's nephew had to go through, I remember constantly hearing that when doing presentations for school, don't overdose on pictures and whatnot in lieu of content. But Black Hystori is just one of those projects that one must hear and internalize for themselves. There are a million quotables on the tape, but they cannot truly be given justice to unless someone listens to (I feel CyHi's passionate delivery is rivaled by very few in the game currently). That's why this article is a lot shorter than I initially planned it, and there are a ton of videos posted. I wanted people to get a feel for the quality of the music-- a tape I've been listening to all year. In my opinion, the tape is pretty flawless, but the links I included are just a sample of what the entire tape has to offer.
Editor's Note: In anticipation of the severely misinformed person that will inexplicably accuse me of being paid by CyHi to pen this article, I just ask you do this one thing. Track down a print journalist and ask them about their financial situation. I'm sure they will explain how they make 7 figures a year, frequently take trips to Cancun and other exotic places, live in a mansion, and dine on expensive dishes with gold plated silverware. Once that happens, I'll be happy to exchange contact info with you. I have a signed autograph of Bigfoot that I will sell you for $200,000. Deal?
May you have a good night in the interim as we discuss payment options, and enjoy this ridiculous flip of "Spottieottie" another gem from the album.