Plaedo – Tribal Hop Raptivism – Album Review
Growing up in Vancouver, BC, a multi-faceted outlet for opinions and beliefs expressed on the streets every day and a couple music-city to boot – I can relate quickly to Plaedo and what he’s rhyming about on Tribal Hop Raptivism. With messages of peace, togetherness & oneness combined with socially-aware communication and education lining the walls of this record – I also appreciate quickly that Plaedo is that rare artist that really speaks his mind for the benefit of the rest of the world. A lot of people out there make music…and there’s nothing to be taken away from that – I’m all about you doing what you do, whatever that might be – but it’s no secret upon these pages that I’ve got a lot of respect for music that gets political or truly has a point of view. And Plaedo certainly does.
Like a lot of music with messages becoming the most important ingredient in the recipe…some of Tribal Hop Activism will fit together perfectly, and some of it will also struggle at points to stick to those messages so completely through the words that some of the other important stuff will fall by the wayside. It happens generally on about…I’d say roughly 95% of the albums out there that pour their hearts into communicating through the words. The results just depend on what becomes the most important aspect of the music being made…and for artists like Plaedo – words come first. Words can inspire…words can incite civil-disobedience and true awareness in the masses in the right doses.
I’ll say this with 100% certainty – Plaedo gets this album rolling-up and rolling-out quickly and steadily as he invites you to join in through the music and message on “Tribal Revival.” Featuring a host of assistance from some key players he’s met along the way including Swan, Zen Tempest, Kemy and So-Far-I – he gets the party moving just as quickly as he starts to spread the love and the knowledge. It’s musically-diverse and “Tribal Revival” shows the extreme versatility in his songs straight off the bat as the album springs to life. Plaedo himself is absolutely feeling this beat – and he’s got it all his words placed and paced perfectly along with music that is unique and inspiring to listen to. His grassroots messages come at you quickly – it’ll be tough for most to grab them all with just one listen but that’s never a problem – that’s just what I like to call a reason to return…and I have many times throughout this week while dissecting this album as best I could. “Tribal Revival” is just as much of a celebration of our uniqueness as it is a celebration of our strength in our togetherness…and I think he’s got this first cut nailed down tight and right.
“Light A Candle” also features a bunch of his homies in a seriously socially-aware track that deals a lot with the consumerism aspect of our modern-day and the environment around us. Even just writing a sentence like that here in review takes brainwork to describe it – so you can imagine probably pretty clearly in your mind just how tough it would be to talk about politics when it comes to hip-hop music. Precision is a value of the genre…but so is standing up for what you believe in and really spreading the love and the message…but again, it’s rare to find both firing at that 100%. Plaedo goes more towards staying on the message here on “Light A Candle” and as a result, the metering of the words gets a little stretched at times as he tries to keep the words to the beat. Give the man some credit – what he’s doing takes courage and it certainly isn’t easy; but by that same token, the best way he’s ever going to pull you in, or me in…is to keep that music flowing without the words hitting those expected awkward moments. You can easily hear it when Plaedo is right there in the moment and the words fit that meter perfectly…and by that same token, you can certainly hear it when they slightly deviate from that. There’s much more good happening here than anything going wrong…and while rapping about everything from political revolutions to the water in Flint Michigan and other environmental issues – he gets the points across strongly enough that he won’t lose you with any slight missteps. Featuring the talents of I-Ghost, Wyspi and Karma – they battle the modern-day industrial revolution on “Light A Candle.”
He’s definitely as environmentally-aware as he is socially-aware…and while his first instincts might be to hug trees – he’s also not making it any secret that he’s also into technology somewhat. He’s referenced computers a couple times on Tribal Hop Raptivism already to the point where you can appreciate the role that they play in his life. They’ve been helping in bring people together from coast-to-coast as one on this entire planet – and “Take Direct Action!” is largely a shout-out to just how important it is to embrace that common-voice we all share and really USE it for the positive. Love the beat on this cut…and for the most part, Plaedo is hitting his own stride with confidence and precision on “Take Direct Action!” Again…I’m expecting a few slips of the tempo and pace on an album like this where message is king…and there’s been a few here as well, but again, not nearly enough to want to skip through the song to another when the beat is this inventive and of sound quality like it is. Best advice I could give to him is the same I’d give to any emcee in hip-hop or rap-music…you KNOW when you’re hitting that meter perfectly, and you KNOW when you’re trying to stretch that next word to fit the meter and pace…and unless there’s a specific purpose to stretch it – chances are you can feel that struggle when you’re rhyming, which is every indication that you need an extra syllable or word fit in to make it truly work. I don’t feel like that’s going to be any kind of revelation to a guy like Plaedo…again, this is something I’d expect he knows already and can hear in his music when he performs it or plays it back himself…which again is why I point out that it’s the messages that remain the number-one priority of this new record.
One of the most ‘tribal’ sounding cuts on the record is definitely “Warrior Soundz” which features Calvin Chance and Zen Tempest alongside him in a unified front. It’s also one of the cuts that seems to really hit the stride perfectly…not too serious, not too crazy either – it’s just the right amount of it all. Even name-checking Anonymous in the words, you gotta figure there’s at least well over 9000 people out there that are definitely catching onto something like that as he rhymes. I also like that he’s written his about his motivations and inspirations behind the music on his pages…you can read about this one being an attempt at something of a combination of sounds and styles you’d find in Zach De La Rocha and Rakim. More towards the Rakim edge of that sword on this particular cut…but I get where he’s coming from. He’s just a little too friendly in his sound, style and tone to really be hitting that angered tone that Zach is infamous for – but I respect the intention and the pursuit.
Some of the best music on this record comes from a sharp & clever beat on “Befriending Shadows” that comes from the longtime friend of Plaedo, Matt Quixote. It’s also one of Plaedo’s best performances and a seriously vibrant song. Whether or not all the thoughts in his brain come across as humorous as they’re intended to be…that part I’m not so sure about honestly; it has its moments. That’s not an easy task he’s taking on once again…it’s basically a story of experience along the journey of his own self-discovery, taking some serious psychological stuff like DMT and trying to relate an experience like that. I’ll give him full-marks on this one in any case…he’s done a much better job of being able to describe that whole state of mind better than I personally could from my own experiences with the toughest drug I’ve ever taken myself…the notorious and blissful DMT. I like Plaedo in moments like this, where he’s really finding his voice in narration and storytelling, relating to us through the words and really taking us into the experiences and wisdom he’s taken-in along the way.
We definitely don’t see eye to eye on everything however. “Call Of The Wild” is possibly his own favorite track on the record as far as I’ve read…but he’s alone there…I can’t go with him here unfortunately. I’d love to…because I love the enthusiasm he has for this track…but there’s no doubt about the fact that he’s missing some of the proper tones on the vocals to match the music here…which I found just as arguably grating as it might be danceable. So that’s a tough one…and sorry dude. Last thing I ever want to do is say my opinion is any better than the artists and bands that make their music out there…I just hear what I hear and I’m only one guy. Lyrically, I think he’s again done some of his best work here…and he clearly loves this one because of how ‘free’ and ‘loose’ he’s really allowed himself to be here…and to a certain extent I can appreciate that. I think it might be a stretch to include Bob Dylan as part of the style he’s going for on this one…I definitely didn’t pick that up… “Call Of The Wild” brings out the most enthusiasm from this Tribal Hop artist…and if anything, that’s what I appreciated.
But for me, it was also in a real tough spot, which might have influenced how I thought about it. Being sandwiched in between what I thought were two extremely strong tracks for him with “Befriending Shadows” and “The Next Chapter” bookending around “Call Of The Wild” – it’s tough to think being in the middle of them would have stood out no matter what track it was. “The Next Chapter” is a bit darker in a sense…maybe a little more serious in a sense and a little bit more personal than the rest…but I thought this really worked well for Plaedo. Excellent switch in this song…extremely trippy and like many hip-hop artists out there, he’s speaking loud & clear through the samples he’s chosen here. Reminds me a lot of Del The Funky Homosapien in his delivery throughout the second-half of the cut…still a few awkward stretches of those syllables to stay on the meter – but those that know Del, know that even the original masters of hip-hop & rap struggled with the same at times.
Speaking of the old-school…where’s my man J WOTI from Warriors Of The Infinite at? I wonder if he’s reading this right now…cause we got right into this subject back in the day when he went down the same road that Plaedo goes down on “Seeds Of Change” in taking on GMO’s and what we eat. I told my homie J straight-up in response that I was going to change my name to Kool GMO-DEE as a front to all the knowledge he was spouting. And don’t get me wrong…it’s not that I don’t particularly care…I get it, I understand the concerns and I hear where they’re coming from, both J WOTI and Plaedo certainly make a ton of great points. But here’s the thing…food just isn’t that important to me. Now…understand that I know I’m certainly also understanding that I’m coming at that topic from a place of first-world privilege…I can eat whenever I’d like to; but truthfully, I just don’t. Unless you count coffee somehow, I generally eat about a single meal per day…so even though I could eat what I’d want to in whatever GMO’d-covered coating it would most certainly be likely to come in – I don’t, basically from complete lack of interest in food whatsoever. So…yeah…appreciate where he’s coming from on “Seeds Of Change” – but like most music with messages involved, there’s always the risk of losing us whenever we don’t feel like we particularly relate to the story being told in the narrative. A track like this is going to resonate and become relatable to many people out there, but for me, I keep coming back to the fact that food just isn’t something that has ever interested me enough to want to write about it. I mean…I’m right there with ya homie if you wanna trip back to the subject of DMT, I could stay on that one for hours…but complaints about a cheeseburger or two…not as much time for.
“Life Is Good” featuring Swan was right on the edge of being another episode of “Call Of The Wild” for me…but to be honest, I think he succeeded here somewhere where the other one slightly missed that mark for me. It could be the addition of Swan…I found each time she popped up on this album that she added strength to it…so that could very well be part of the magic. I guess I just felt like even though the music wasn’t my favorite ingredient here on “Life Is Good” either – the performance itself seemed most honest, sincere and less forced than what I felt like I was hearing in “Call Of The Wild.” Chances are, young Plaedo is reading this and thinking the big ol’ WTF – because chances are, he also had to work harder to really get “Life Is Good” completely right and it might seem like he had to force that one MORE than he did compared to how he let himself go on “Call Of The Wild.” I call that putting in the work. You can hear that extra care has been put into making this one sound on-beat, on-point and in-tune…and I suppose that’s what made the difference for me on “Life Is Good.” It’s an exceptional performance from Plaedo and definitely won me over.
I mean…the dude sure likes to get a little bit crazy sometimes…and you’ll notice that most on “Getting Mad Respect At The Carnival” which features Undermind. To which I’d ask…but are ya really? I appreciate reaching out into the beyond to find new combinations and compositions of sound…but I don’t necessarily know whether or not he’s getting any more respect from the carnival crowd than he would be on streets shoulder-to-shoulder with the activists and raptivists out there. That could just be me…don’t get me wrong. I think what threw me off the most was that in general, it seems like Plaedo went a little bit nuts in the second-half of Tribal Hop Raptivism…and I’m not so sure he didn’t lose the plot along the way when I hear a track like this one, or the following final-cut “Alien’s Exist” featuring Calvin Chance. Towards the end of the record I kind of felt like I was a little bit set-up by how this record began. When it all started, it was extremely focused…and there was an artist I felt like, whether or not I agreed with him, it didn’t matter – he was USING his knowledge and his voice for the greater-good. Towards the second-half to the end of the record, it began to feel like the middle of a Hunter S. Thompson novel…like the drugs had taken hold and the need to be politically-expressive and communicate knowledge fell somewhat by the wayside in terms of what was important. I mean…don’t get me wrong…if it’s truly DMT that’s he’s been dipping into – it really does take the brain to a whole new-level; I felt like I could barely communicate a word of my own experiences through out…it’s severely tough-stuff to handle but life-changing in all the right ways…but maybe it got the better of him?
So truthfully…my reaction to this record is a little bit mixed – but that’s potentially because it’s front-loaded with tracks that really communicate on a serious level before things take a vibrant twist & turn towards the fun-side of the hip-hop spectrum at the end. People are bound to feel like I do about it – and there’s also going to be a ton of people that feel the complete opposite effect whereby they enjoy the second half of the record much more than the first. Six or one-half dozen of the other, as they say. But…I’ll say this…a reaction at all, good or bad…is still always a solid indication that we felt SOMETHING. Indifference is the worst case scenario for anyone’s music out there…and I don’t feel indifferent towards Plaedo. But I do feel like this is someone that the planet could really potentially need at his most-focused…and I’d fully encourage him to use the incredible gifts of knowledge he has whenever he can.
Find out more about Plaedo at his official homepage at: www.plaedo.com
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