A-B-E – A South Bronx Tale – Album Review
When I got up this morning…sun was shining…things were great instantly – you gotta love that! It wasn’t until I jumped online this morning that it began to rain inside…I got to check into an email from a promoter who was a little upset regarding the personal narrative that happens to run inside the framework of my reviews…well, a LOT upset really as I suppose the specific article they were pissed about pointed out in several spots just how dedicated he hasn’t been for quite some time and in pointing that out, I guess I became the shithead. But my simple question to you all is…why then is it that artists that care about their music like the artist in review today, A-B-E, seem to make sure that beyond a shadow of a doubt that the person reviewing their music has everything they need at their disposal?
My point is as simple as this: if you’re a manager, promoter, friend, family member, super-amped-up-fan – whatever the case might be – if you can’t, aren’t capable, simply don’t have the proper amount of time to properly push the music and get it out there with all the details attached, or can’t communicate – you run the risk of potentially hurting the artist or band in question by making the environment online one that looks uncaring. Seriously – if you can’t push the music with the same enthusiasm, sincere communication and desire as the artist themselves would – keep your hands OFF of it – it’s that simple. When I see things that hurt our music-scene happening on a constant basis – yep – I’m gonna call you out with a hostile attitude; always have, always will.
I know…I’m here to talk about A-B-E right? This all goes somewhere…I promise ya…
You see…when I pushed play on A South Bronx Tale this morning…I found an artist whose words I truly identify with. To be truthful – that’s not always something I expect all that much being a homeless-looking white-dude from the suburbs! And it’s not that A-B-E comes out gunning about first-world problems I can relate to – nah son…it ain’t like that… It’s more like the empowering vibe that runs throughout A South Bronx Tale is like the story of the underdog…and a large nod to how important freedom of speech truly is…and these are words I needed to hear right now. And when A-B-E starts up with a direct dedication to haters from his past as “Like Dat” starts-up the album – I found myself feeling the words and passion in this rapper right away – cause brother, I hear ya. As A-B-E continues to expertly spell out the story of his own personal narrative, its commendable to hear how much his confidence has risen up against the adversity he’s faced along the way…and when you hear how much skill, precision and heart this guy puts into his music – well A-B-E, you can correct me if I’m wrong, but who’s laughing now right?
A South Bronx Tale is the straight-up sound of dedication to the craft on a recording. Don’t even let this incredible lyricist fool you for a second – these are still songs you wanna groove to; just because A-B-E starts out with a more typical-hook like on “For The Kids” doesn’t mean that an entire atom-bomb’s worth of knowledge isn’t about to be dropped on yo face within seconds. The lyrical content of this track isn’t just good, isn’t just great – this is IMPORTANT; and I’m not even remotely kidding when I say that, were I ever to have kids, I’d much rather them be educated through the sentiment and words on this record than I would ever want them in any ‘educational’ institution or assimilation-class offered.
“Disconnected” provides one of the more satisfying beats through the low-end driven music, but A-B-E remains the star with an entire story decked out perfectly throughout its three-plus minutes. Heading into a little darker atmosphere…a little more venom & aggression in his rhyme creates a menacing tone to this track and the lyrics SHOULD blow your mind through the sheer assembly of them all and how A-B-E has managed to fit each and every one right at the perfect moment. This is literally AND audibly, a flawless MC in both words written, and the performance OF those words throughout this album.
Even while the beat lightens-up & livens-up with “Memory Lane” – the lyrical content continues to remain thought-provoking and on-point. I completely appreciate just how complicated it truly is to fit in as many words as A-B-E does to any given verse or chorus and still have them come out clearly enough for listeners to hear each and every one as they go by. The clarity is there entirely – now it’s just a matter of whether or not YOU can keep up to the guy and process all the words as they’re flying by. But if for some reason you don’t end up catching them all on the first time around – I’ve got great news for ya, that’s what ‘repeat’ was invented for. Multiple listens on A South Bronx Tale can only do you good; you’re bound to catch a ton of stuff you missed the first time around that you NEED to hear.
Every point I’m making about A-B-E and the absolute intense abilities he possesses that completely set him apart from the rest, he makes much better through his own words on “Where I’m At.” The lyrics once again…just phenomenal, nothing more, nothing less…NBD right A-B-E? Seriously…this track is just about as sick as it gets…he’s got a perfect beat that’s crisp and snaps wickedly alongside the words as the BLAZE through with humour, knowledge and sharp attack. I hate to say it to all you ‘Sucka-MC’s’ out there…but you’re fully being called out by A-B-E beyond repair here in this song; on the bright-side, “Where I’m At” is basically a lyrical blueprint that points out every point at which you’re making terrible decisions or not putting in the work…you COULD learn from it and grow…
…but honestly…when you listen to the skill, precision and genuine approach from A-B-E…would you honestly feel like you have enough lifetime left to catch up to where he is NOW? A song like “Where I’m At” should SCARE the shit out of MC’s out there…this guy isn’t going anywhere at all – he’s just getting warmed up. A South Bronx Tale and the dedication put into these rhymes should be responsible for retiring half of the aspiring ‘wordsmiths’ out there that are already halfway into their ‘careers’ – this album and the bar it sets is nearly impossible to compete with.
Making the point of freedom of speech and how both fragile and important it is once again, this time around A-B-E sets the knowledge against a piano-led melody and inviting sounds. Telling a detailed story about the relationship between time and saying what we should say before it’s too late – the complexity of the rhyme is jaw-dropping. Need a sample to be convinced? Check “If I Die” around the two-and-a-half minute-mark…the amount of skill and timing is nothing short of impeccable. With the vibe of the music making a large departure to an atmosphere that lends itself to making the whole song feel a LOT more personal…he’s done a genius job on “If I Die.”
“Real Wit Yaself” has a lot of innovative twists on the sound of the knowledge coming at ya. With smart effects and clever-mixing, “Real Wit Yaself” is dynamically produced and displays everything from the humour & attitude in A-B-E to the brilliant choices he makes through beats to rhyme over. Empowering once again through its lyrics and tone – the final minute & a half of this song contain some of my favourite words from A-B-E.
How about I say it this way for reference…I mean…I don’t know this for a specific-fact…but I’m assuming that A-B-E most likely put in, what, 1-3 years making this record? The precision and natural-talent that is spread-out all over A South Bronx Tale is something that can’t be taught and would take most every other MC out there an entire lifetime to achieve just ONCE. A-B-E sounds a long, long way from ancient – to think that this guy has another one or ten of these albums coming in the future fills a guy like me with a TON of hope – the world truly needs an artist like this, and his skill-level virtually guarantees this hip-hop artist will become a well-known household name.
And of course…being from BC and living just outside ‘Vansterdam’…I can definitely dig-on “Getting Twisty.” With twisted words and twisted content all depicting a twisted night or two with several twisted scenarios…everything about this track is “Getting Twisty” – and although it’s a little bit more of a party-song than it is a knowledge-bomb…everyone’s gotta relax for a minute or two right? “Getting Twisty” provides that musical-reprieve…and if there was ever a time to roll up a blunt to get ready for the rest of A South Bronx Tale, this is that moment.
If you CAN’T relate to the lyrics in “Work It Out” – congratulations…somehow you beat the game and avoided the emotional-ripping-out-of-your-intestines that love can become in a person’s life. For the rest of the 99.9% of us out there – the lyrics of this cut totally detail what many of us have been through while trying to pound the square through the circle-hole of love & life. Some things just aren’t meant to be…”Work It Out” does an extraordinary job of highlighting just how hard we all try to “Work It Out” when really, quite often the problems are so deep-rooted that they’re bound to sprout-up again. Love…even perceived-love or believed-love…is difficult to walk away from…great lyrics in this song.
Keeping us entertained solidly and our attention captivated, “Speak My Truth” brings the music & lyrics to another level personally…depicting the struggle much of A-B-E’s family has been through throughout the years. “Speak My Truth” also has some of the most incredible insights on religion vs. reality through the lyrics and the music is wickedly jazzy, providing a solid groove that twists its rhythm perfectly alongside the words. Getting assistance from The Last Emcee on the final verse – another solid choice upon A South Bronx Tale – he rhymes smoothly and provides exactly the right energy to fit the track.
There are multiple skits and short samples that keep this mixtape/album flowing flawlessly; the one that ends “Speak My Truth” before “Chocolate Pomegranate” begins made me crack up. And then of course, he starts right into his most heartfelt rhyme on the entire album in direct contrast. Should I have expected this from A-B-E at this point in A South Bronx Tale? Yes. But I didn’t…and that’s a fact. The other fact, is that this transition is one of the most memorable…and that “Chocolate Pomegranate” is a slow-burning charmer. Panties be droppin’ ladies…look out…A-B-E is out to set the record straight on this song – he’s a lover, not a fighter…clearly!
Instantly putting the chill back into your spine with the atmosphere on the final cut “No Better Feeling” – A-B-E finds another-gear with plenty still in the tank to burn through this last song. “No Better Feeling” is an expression of just how much love he’s got for what he’s doing RIGHT NOW. And I mean…shiiiiiiiiiiiiiit…if I was creating music anywhere close to this level myself I’d be popping bottles constantly in celebration, straight-up. It’s the inspired ending that this mixtape deserved – “No Better Feeling” represents the pure-joy that freeing yourself, body, soul & mind to go after what you love with everything you got can bring you.
I loved everything about this album – straight-up it’s one of the best I’ve heard in hip-hop lyrically…like I said, it’s not just a set of rhymes – these are important words. A true man of the people, A-B-E represents the dream in us all and how it can completely become the reality when you put the work in. A South Bronx Tale is flawless – I will remember this man for years and years from this one experience alone – A-B-E’s album is a stunning achievement of clarity in thought & music and an absolute declaration of his verifiable right to be here speaking his mind for the people with precision & heart.
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