Saturday, March 22, 2008

Certified Nuance-Free

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The Perceptionists - Memorial Day | Divshare | YSI | 320 kbps

We recently marked our fifth year of national embarrassment in Iraq. We're way past the point where jokes about the war are funny, and maybe even past the point where anyone can say anything intelligent and insightful about it at all. So who do you turn to if you want a protest song with the subtlety of a roundhouse kick? Well, Tom Morrello, probably. But if you want it to be at all good, holler at some backpacker rappers.

Mr. Lif, Akrobatik and DJ Fakts One dropped their first album as The Perceptionists on Def Jux in 2004 and "Memorial Day" was the lead single. In my book, Lif is top five for non-traditional rap while Ak never seemed to outgrow his Real Hip-Hop phase, but the contrast of the cerebral rap and the brute force rap work well here. Akro lays the rugged first-person imagery on thick while Lif gets a little more introspective, as he is want to do. Fakts' beat is bombastic.

But really "Memorial Day" is all about the hook. It doesn't get more straightforward than "WHERE ARE THE WEAPONS OF MASS DESTRUCTION? WE BEEN LOOKIN FOR MONTHS AND WE AINT FOUND NOTHIN." Even though it was usually preaching to the converted in 2004 whenever I played this in public (and I did), it felt good and cathartic to be able to broadcast a big WTF to a room full of people.

Protest music outgrew its usefulness by the time corporate charities started corralling hair metal stars to record posse cuts about SIDS in the 80's, and protest rap jumped the shark long before Immortal Technique started dropping entire mixtapes about the RAND Corporation. But "Memorial Day" is streamlined to perfection. As we pump nine figures weekly into Iraq, it's disturbing to think everything Ak and Lif say here is still true and nobody is even bothering to answer any of the questions they ask.

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