Massachusetts super-group The Perceptionists have come here to show us that there is more to hip-hop than just bling bling, bouncing ass cheeks, platinum grills, and of course the one institution that has blemished hip-hop forever: MTV. After serving as the hip-hop staples alongside De La Soul at this year’s Bonnaroo festival (where they rocked the roof off of the tent), the trio of Mr.Lif, Akrobatik, and DJ Fatks One on the wheels of steel have given us a compendium for the hip-hop fan’s guide for living in the dark ages of George W. Bush. One listen to Black Dialogue will let the seasoned fan of underground hip-hop know that this is in fact a release from the maverick Def Jux label on a politically and socially-charged album with top of the line beats provided in a sort of a round-robin rotation by Fatks One, El-P, and neophytes CamuTao, Willie Evans, and Cyrus the Great.
The opening salvo “Let’s Move” jounces with some alt-crunk as the old-school urban funk gallop on “People 4 Prez” brings back the days of EPMD. The early nineties, NYC-minded underground flow of “Memorial Day” has Akrobatik doing what the administration hates the most, which is question the rationale for the war in Iraq as inquired through the mind of a soldier with cleaver rhymes like “But would Donald Rumsfeld back me up with the chrome? /Would Tom Ridge fight, or would he stay secure back home? /And would Condoleezza Rice cover grenades in a foxhole? /I’m startin to believe that what I told was not so!”
The title track is a call for more progressive-minded ways of life within modern African-American culture as the Perceptionists cite examples from the great minds of musicians like Stevie Wonder all the way to brilliant poets like Langston Hughes. A wicked lyrical flow sways through on the bubbly groove in “Frame Rupture” as a more militant rapport takes over to the atypical Def Jux noise-hop beats holds steady on “What Have We Got to Lose?!?” accompanied by the wicked scratching skills of Fatks One. Of course Akrobatik shows on this track that he has reached his lyrical peak on Black Dialogue with crafty verses such as “Cause it’s orange alert, there’s foreigners hurt/Let’s scurry to the nearest bomb shelter deep beneath the city/To talk about these imminent threats, and Janet Jackson’s titty.”
The Perceptionists are a dying breed in hip-hop today as the majority of the clowns out there with $90,000 worth of diamonds on their bodies, have forgotten the true roots of this movement in music in which they shit on every day. Black Dialogue provides the “edutainment” aesthetic that KRS-One started back with DJ Scott La Rock during the days of Boogie Down Productions that showed people how to get their party on while bettering themselves and their communities. The Peceptionists have shown us that rappers who fall in to this game out of materialistic desire are merely sheep, blindly following the major label shepherds who make the artists rich while making themselves a shitload richer off of them.
Black Star – Black Star
Dead Prez – Let’s Get Free
Boom Bap Project – Reprogram