Teaming up with Massline and Rawkus Records to release their second full-length album, Bayani (due out on June 12th), Blue Scholars reaffirm their goal to mobilize minds and bodies towards liberation. The group fuses personal experiences with political stances and Baha’i spirituality.
The album kicks off with “Baha’i Healing Prayer,” setting the spiritual undertone and openness of the album. The following 14 tracks fit nicely into the group’s laidback style, honing Blue Scholars’ spoken word style of delivery and diversity of multi-genre influenced beats. The album clearly illustrates the duo’s respect for artists like Thelonius Monk and J Dilla, but combines West Coast independent hip-hop flavors like that of Zion I and the Visionaries. Bayani delivers songs of protest and freedom, staying truth to both its Tagalog and Farsi meanings of “heros (of the people)” and “the divine word,” respectively.
Emcee Geologic and DJ Sabzi combine their rich assortment of musical influences to create a new form of classic boom-bap, like a refreshed A Tribe Called Quest with a modern-day spin. The album contains an air of familiarity with musical uniqueness, touching on close-to-home subjects of love, injustices, personal and economic struggle, anger, and the desire for happiness.
Tracks like “Mourning Of America” shows the group’s sophistication as it ventures through faith by way of visions of death, along with a glimpse inside existing wars and fairly recent U.S. political history. “Opening Salvo” inspires with messages of revolution, even if change will happen after your lifetime, and words of love towards one’s family and one’s self. Other tracks, like “Loyalty,” brings back old school hip-hop intellect, conveying the harsh reality of working class struggles and giving society the ultimatum to “stand up or fall down.” Blue Scholars used Bayani to bring an emotional uplift back to hip-hop.