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Blue Scholars' Bayani

Mad different from their live, band-backed show, but still tight. It's nice to have my hands on it a month before it comes out nationally. Hopefully, when it drops, its publisher, Rawkus, will help it get the recognition it deserves. This shit could be a crossover hit if it just gets enough exposure. If the Seattle hip-hop scene is going to break nationally, this is the level its albums will have to be at.

Though it's pop friendly, Bayani stands as an artistic move forward for Geo and Sabzi, both of whom show growth in their trade on this disc. More importantly, the two have exhibited greater synergy with each new release. Their latest record has an expanded sound; each track sets its own tone while remaining consistent with the whole of the album. As has been pointed out in local reviews, it doesn't entirely abandon the boom-bap sound or leftist principles that made the Scholars local heroes. There are a few party tracks that could be bumped by some frat boys without much thought, sure, but most of the tracks hit hard, with an explicitly radical and populist bent.

Which brings me to another point. I think it's awesome that so many young kids in Seattle are receptive to such an openly political group. And I'm glad that the Scholars have the courage and conviction to express their ideals and problems in music. A lot of celebrities are activists, but not so many of them tie their careers to their beliefs. The Blue Scholars are happy to do both.

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