Sunday, August 24, 2014

The Baptism - Passalacqua - CHURCH

"Ravenous...these ones that are left to salvage..."

I press play and immediately press the headphones snug against my ear. It's not loud enough.
I turn it up just 12 words into the first rap and there's a feeling of ascension with the choir, even though their chanting something as colloquially endearing as...
"Ohhhh, YEAH!" 

"Trying to keep my composure, wise enough not to call myself soldier" 
"I don't see another way / no, I sure do hope that all this pounding on my chest wasn't done in vein..." 

What do you do with that beat? Rock the body, shimmy shoulders? Nod the head with neck-kinking catharsis...? ...Or are we supposed to march? To stomp? Brace the knees and stand taller? 

This isn't proselytizing as much as it's instilling. It's not damning, it's emboldening. It's a rap that doesn't just point to the splay and spill of broken pieces...but resolves to pick them up. Fit them back together. 

Oh, but it's also not idealistic, preachy protest-rap. No, It's rap that does just as Mister says... pounds right on your chest. Ya' know, part of a baptism involves a regeneration. And that's one of the key ideas here, on this collaboration between Passalacqua and SYBLING

But the biggest idea is a bracing, a building, a galvanizing... of, what? You, yourself? This area? The style of music, hip-hop? New levels of production with those body-rocking bass booms and jitter-juking synth-chirps, new possibilities of genre-fusion? Possibly all of that.

There's these guttural spitfire raps, the words still serrated from the MC's teeth as they seethe out (and soothe away some spite), "Original mystic, evangelist gone ballistic, words with a man on a mission...and it all started out from a vision..." And then the choir's celestial voices coalesce again as the chorus comes in, belted as if nearly breathless, like the singer's assuring herself that her crescendo reaches the rafters: "this World's my drug..."

It's telling that, during Mister's opening rap, there's pitch-shifted samples of other voices repeating "Hit 'em."
Hit them.
Hit them. If that's what it takes, right?

The final chorus comes in and it starts to feel like something's dawning upon you; not like any heavenly light coming over the distant dark horizons (though the arrangement of synthesized strings, guitars and drums, mixed in such away, certainly does evoke a certain mystical radiance), but, no, it's like a widening of perception. That there is this whole fucking world, yawning and yelling and dying and living, all around you; big, enveloping, broken apart, surrounding you and your headphones. 

Turn it up more. Headphones, press em closer. The bass samples swoon, heavier, louder, and you feel like you're in a cement truck mixer and those snapping beats start to feel more like the alleviation of a pain you'd grown too used to to even feel anymore. Now, cleansed.. Back, alive. Braced, galvanized.


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