The problem with a lot of conscious rap is that even when its delivering an important message, it’s a chore to listen to. That is not the case with Chicago by-way-of Louisville MC AleXander, whose new project The Harvest is filled with booming production and razor sharp lyricism.
“Why is it that Black Americans are discouraged from pursuing hip-hop–a purportedly foolish dream–when so many people that aren’t Black Americans profit so well off of our art? It’s like a harvest: crops are given just enough to survive. When they need grow no more, they are cut down and consumed,” AleXander explained of the record.
First single “Wishes,” is a jazzy, soulful exploration of consumerism and want that sounds like the kind of music MCs like Isaiah Rashad and Kendrick Lamar are making. It showcases his versatility as an artist, shifting cadences constantly and keeping listeners on their toes with his delivery.
“Pharaoh Xander” is the mixtape’s centerpiece. It’s unrelenting, an absolute hurricane that’ll leave you in an absolute daze. “Elliott Mortuary” is equally impressive, and features a strong guest spot from another rising MC in Sarob.
Overall, The Harvest is a snapshot of a rapper wrestling with issues in a way that few do nowadays. It’s a star turn from AleXander, and yet another win for the soulful side of Chicago’s rap scene.
There must be a reason for this recent trending of “Truth” by Alexander. After hearing it echoing throughout the office the other day, I posted something about it, and now I receive an email about a remix of it? I guess it’s hitting the more mainstream masses now, huh? Ugh, does that make me a music snob? Please forgive me.
Anyway, best way to spend your weekend is likely with this song as your soundtrack. Trust me on this one. It’s supposed to rain here all weekend, but this song is a bit like putting on sunglasses that will turn rain into heavy beams of light bursting in to say hello. Happy Friday at Five-ish! Rock on!
Alexander Ebert, the frontman of Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros, is one of my favorite live performers I’ve ever seen. By the end of this video, you might have a better understanding why. It’s funny that this video came on my radar today, because for some reason, songs by Alexander, particularly “Truth,” has been echoing throughout headphones and speakers at work. It’s as though somebody heard the song, wrote it down on a piece of paper, and passed it around the office like a note about the cute new girl in class got passed around in middle school. Okay, so it probably wasn’t much like that, but a girl can let her mind wander, no?
Anyway, this video isn’t really doing it for me. Despite its attempt to be artsy and futuristic with its animations that turn mountains into men (specifically Alexander himself), it’s a little too forced for me. Almost seems a little cheesy. BUT, his dance moves at the end ALMOST bring the video back to positive review land. You know what they remind me of? The times in [the incredible movie] Legends of the Fall when One Stab does his tribal dances. Yall feel me?
Lastly, try to tell me Alexander doesn’t seem like a modern-day Paul Simon. This album is one of the five I picked for my feature on Nerve.com (Five Albums You Should Be Listening To Right Now), and that’s when I first made that bold statement. I stand by it, though. Who wants to pick a fight with me? I’m ready for it!
Hit the jump to watch the video.