Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Clean Hip-Hop From the Underground

His name's YoRel.
And you can meet him in NYC Times Square.

He's hustling his music there, and actually I'm not even sure if it's Yorel we met or a compatriot of his going by the name "Complex77 aka Truestory." And so because he's not signed by a major label, that adds an element of illegitimacy, I guess.

But his music's actually pretty good.

It's not stop-me-in-my-tracks-mind-numbing-amazing, but then rarely do I find rap/hip-hop to be life-changing or crazy-cool-ear-catching. Usually I find hip-hop fascinating because the people making it always seem to be coming at life from such a different angle than the one I grew up in.

For some reason, YoRel's music gets at me in a special way. Maybe it's that he (or Complex 77) appreciated my laugh and smile. Maybe it's that he wanted a photo with my friends or that he signed my CD. (He does that for everyone who buys his CD, but whatever. It made me feel special.) Maybe it's that he gave me the CD and then forgot to ask me for my money; he seemed content enough just meeting us. Or maybe it's the music I like and the way he's telling his story. Because the sound is fresh and the rhymes are real.

He's singing about experiences growing up in Brooklyn, and it seems his didn't involve going down on women, talking dirty, or doing cocaine as much as other hip-hoppers' lives seem to have been. He's singing about reading the Quran, preferring the Christian Bible, meeting girls walking around on a sunny day, being a hustler, getting caught up in video games, and giving God thanks.

The songs are often structured similarly - verse/chorus/verse/chorus/verse - but the beats are nicely varied. Sometimes it's peppy; sometimes it's more mellow. Sometimes it's rocking, and sometimes it's more groovy. And the lyrics mix humor so nicely with sincerity.
It's worth checking out.

Some used to think a white guy couldn't rap - and then Eminem showed up. Some might not think that a guy selling CDs on the sly in Times Square should have talent, but here is YoRel to defy them.

Anyway, here we have a poet, a storyteller, sharing his pain, singing his faith - and by no means does he have the virtuosity of Kanye - but YoRel sure does have character.

To get a taste for what he can do, Check
Out These Songs:

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