Hip Hop could be viewed as a house divided. On one hand, you have purists who celebrate the golden era of complex lyrics, quick wordplay, and social consciousness. One the other, you have the modern manifestation of money, cash, hoes; and of course, drugs. Very rarely do both sides agree or meet. The brothers of Divine Suns; however, may have found the sweet spot in between these polar opposites with their latest release, Conscious & Cadillac. Maybe that house will stand.
The concept is fairly simple: intertwine conscious lyrics over bouncy 808’s, with hood speak and guttural guitar. Basically, ignore the rules of a conceptual album and allow the music to grow and speak for itself.
Blur the lines that fragment Black identity and culture. Embrace both the streets and the school. This is the musical version of The Autobiography of Malcolm X, replete with knowledge of self and restless rebellion.
Conscious & Cadillac is atypical of Divine Suns. While a collective effort, the project is essentially an ANON The Griot and The HunchPunch Champ vision. Inspired by ANON spitting, “I’m Big K.R.I.T. on this s**t, Conscious and Cadillac” from Lifestyle (on Chaos Theory), the album embraces the dichotomy between the two brothers. The two are polarizing: ANON is the griot and Punch is the compassionate bully; however, on closer analysis, both emcees walk that Janelle Monae Tightrope and effortlessly bounce between social consciousness and the righteously ratchet.
Billy Northam and Charlie P. handle the lion share of production, but Dan Johns, Glenn Farakesh, Magnesium, and Aaron Ortiz add to the album’s diverse soundscape. The first single, Waiting, borrows from a YoungBlooodz hook and seductively invites the listener to lose their inhibitions in Vere’s sultry vocals and a thick, 808 bassline. The aforementioned Waiting, along with Step Inside and Choker are definitely the Cadillac side, while Trouble and No More Choirs highlight the album’s Conscious focus. Yet… there is still another level, an even deeper exploration of both dualities present in F**k 12 and Science of Self,
where Felix the Black Cat and Detroit’s own Finale, help to add political and social awareness to an already dense offering.
Simply stated, this is not Hip Hop for the masses. There is no cowering behind safe ideas and tried-and-true methods. This is Hip Hop at its finest. The result is a musical revolution, a cultural evolution. This is Beyoncé at the Super Bowl and Killer Mike on Real Time with Bill Maher. This is Nikki Giovanni tatting “All Eyez on You” on her arm after Pac’s death. This is the soundtrack for an already tumultuous 2016; this is the inconvenient truth that we all need. We are; at least, symmetric; but realistically, there are many sides to each of our persons. Conscious & Cadillac is the musical representation of our complexity.
Listen close, but pack light.
Conscious & Cadillac will be released via Flat Circle Records and Films on February 29, 2016 in conjunction wtih Black History Month and Leap Day. Virginia’s Face The Truth, Atlanta’s Grown Rome,
and South Carolina’s AK help to round out the list of featured artists. This is a project perfect for pairing with those 15’s in your trunk. Not to be pigeon-holed, it will also work very well with your smartphone
and a dimly-lit room. The Divine Suns invite you to Step Inside this Conscious Cadillac.