Sunday, September 28, 2008

ARTIST SPOTLIGHT: Right and exact: Bambu's "Exact Change" what hip hop needs

Whew...Is hip hop dead? In a coma? Underfed? Well, whatever the case may be, hip hop music is thriving, bold, brave, and well-fed in Bambu's Exact Change album. FOBBDeep spells out some of the meanings of the phrase "Exact Change," appropriate during this election season.

I just picked it up at the UC Irvine Kababayan First Gen last week (thanks Kat!), and only now listened to the whole album in its entirety. Whew... its not only what hip hop needs, its what I need right now to stay spiritually sane (naw mean?). Exact Change is intelligent, street-smart, soulful, well-produced, while staying faithful to Bambu's messages of social justice in regards to Filipino, people of color, and women's lives.

In the liner notes, Bambu writes he wanted the album to be "a little more headphone friendly" and "wanted the lyrics to be a little more introspective," and this is what he gives you. Looking back, I think Bambu's last album I Scream Bars for the Children was more meditative than introspective ("Life in Rewind" or "Jeepney" anyone?). Bam bares his soul in this new joint, especially in regards to his growing family and the necessary self-transformation (check out "Seven Months").

For many Filipino/a Americans, I think this album may be a spiritual journey. Bam speaks to a variety of issues that many of us "feel" and he puts it in words.

A few gems:

In "Misused," Bam lays out the crooked cultural politics when it comes to church. Why is Jesus always shown as white? And why are we--as brown Filipinos--not questioning this consciously-constructed mythology?

"...And when I'm dead and gone
It's the same ole song
I'll walk right out of heaven
If it's primarily blonde, and
Blue eyes lies since I was born
And now my son gone have to deal with
People sayin he wrong
For not believing what they believe
He livin in sin
Because he'll never kneel down and pray
To that color skin, no.

I used to sit in church and look at the stained glass
And wonder why none of them look like me.
You know what I'm saying? And I just don't want
My son to go through that shit."

Bam's monologues (the non-rapped, spoken words) are very instructive. Check out the song "Exact Change" for the troof:

"So, to create change and to make a real shift in our society, it's not as difficult as you think. You know what I'm sayin? The process might be slower than you like, but once those series of events begin, especially with yourself, you'll see that the individual becomes a group of individuals. And that group creates the climate for social change. You feel me?

So, you gotta educate yourself. Organize yourself. Recognize that you are not simply one person, but a bunch of strings bound into a rope, you know what I'm sayin? And you could pull yourself out this shit."

Exact change. Make change...change that matters. Start with yourself. Then get on that bus yall.

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