by Itoro Udoko
In a way, right now is the easiest it’s ever been to get your music out there. The Internet has severely undermined the power of traditional gatekeepers — record labels, regional musical biases, etc. But with easy access comes a chattering rainforest of would-be rappers and producers battling for your attention. So while it may not be difficult to get a dozen folks to give your mixtape a spin, it’s probably harder than it’s ever been to get them to pay serious attention.
Cue BZRK, the newest crew to pop onto the Nashville landscape. The five-man squadron got put on my radar a couple weeks ago when, on the tip of a friend, I downloaded their first mixtape, Sacred Geometry. It’s actually a solo tape from crew member ThirdEye G, but with eight of the 17 tracks featuring other members, there’s plenty of time to get acquainted with everyone. Sacred Geometry is quite a debut. And even though it hasn’t made a lot of noise yet, I’m touting it as an early sleeper for one of the best local releases this year. Most of the tracks are produced by ThirdEye G, which is impressive enough. But the emcee/producer also comes with a flow and lyrical dexterity that command the mic. In fact, no one on the crew is dead weight. Caveman particularly impresses, especially on standout track “Nothing but a Memory.”
Sacred Geometry is 17 songs long, but not a single track is wasted. Some tracks are more memorable than others, but this is still the kind of mixtape where you don’t skip songs. That’s great for any mixtape, but especially a debut effort. Even the songs on Sacred Geometry that are initially easier to dismiss prove their worth after a few listens. On “The Third Insight,” Caveman spits “I know I’m young, but I got more scars than your whole crew / I know I’m white, but I grew up on soul food.” That sentiment sums up the entire record for me. Bravo, BZRK.
After you download Sacred Geometry, be sure to check out “Doobie Trials,” BZRK’s newest single.
Allow me to step outside of Nashville for a moment. This next bit is something every hip-hop fan — especially Southern hip-hop fans — should be keeping up with. I don’t know if you’ve been informed, but Goodie Mob is back.
Tomorrow, the Atlanta posse will drop their first studio album in almost a decade, and the first since '99 with all the original members. After Cee-Lo Green left and become a mainstream pop star, I thought Goodie Mob was done for good. Thankfully, I was wrong.
In the past few years, trap music has become flat-out mainstream. And Southern hip-hop’s tropes have become more and more important to modern pop’s formula. So it’s great to see a legendary Southern act like Goodie Mob coming back into the spotlight. All nostalgia aside, Age Against the Machine is a bizarrely joyous reunion. It’s everything you’d expect from Goodie Mob, with a futuristic bent you never saw coming. Out tomorrow, Aug. 27. Cop the new record.