Critic’s Corner: Bambu – …Paper Cuts… EP

Bambu dropped this EP earlier this year as something of a prelude to his upcoming exit album which he has been stating to be his last. He’s been in the game a long time now, both as part of Native Guns and now as a solo artist – choosing not only to use his mic to make music but speak and organize the communities he grew up in as well. It’s on that note that he continues to interweave the two worlds, regularly incorporating some type of socially concious theme into his music. So with the formal collections of his music as albums coming to a supposed end, how did this EP fare?

Paper Thin ft Chace Infinite – The album gets down to business pretty quickly, jumping straight into a raw track about some of the struggles faced everyday in Bam’s community. He’s joined by Chace for a pretty decent feature all over a circus inspired beat. But it doesn’t end there as it switches up to a jazzy tip. It’s a solid song though not mind blowing.

Slow Down ft Prometheus Brown – This. Song. Is. HOT. That’s all I can really say. Bambu and Prometheus Brown aka Geologic of Blue Scholars each put in a verse, excercisng that double time rhyme over an awesome classic rock influenced instrumental. PB KILLED his verse, oowee. I just wish it was longer as it clocks in at just over 2 and a half minutes. Don’t miss this one.

Correctly Done ft Thurzday – The track flips that old school soul vibe as Bambu continues to wax poetic about staying smart coming up in the streets. It’s a common theme in much of his work but he manages to always keep it relevant without being too redundant. Thurzday pulls his weight and overall this is just one of those songs you can nod ya head to in agreement and enjoyment.

Rather Seen ft Malcom & Martin – The sparse production on the track kind of had me on the fence. There are elements I like about it but overall it doesn’t stand out enough to me. In general there were a bunch of stylistic choices I wasn’t feeling; such as the hook. The featuring artists didn’t do much to liven up the song either. I didn’t find myself skipping this track but I never had it on repeat either.

The Queen is Dead – This was released quite a bit ahead of the rest of the EP, so I’ve been familiar with it or a while now. I really like what Bambu did conceptually, and in contrast to the preceding song, I liked pretty much everything about this track. The beat selection is on point and having Rocky Rivera contribute was a great choice for many reasons. The man speaks truth and challenges how hypocritical men’s treatment of women can be. This one is recommended.

Sondalo – For the most part, Bam’s really shown a penchant for choosing great beats for this album. Content wise, he continues to spit variations of a lot of the same subjects but his instrumental selection keeps it fresh. I think most of you will enjoy this one too.

Old Man Raps – The music video for this song is one of my favorites of the year, and it’s not just because of the visuals. The song itself is very strong and continues to challenge “Slow Down” as my favorite of the EP. Bambu may be a seasoned veteran in music and life, but with that comes a lot of lessons learned and wisdom that he shares about here. He’s previously stated that the next album after this will be his last and he seems to be setting up the framework for that. On a fun note, listen for his mention of Dumbfoundead in the first verse.

Smog City’s Own ft Diz Gibran – It’s kind of a shame the album didn’t end on “Old Man Raps”. It’s not that this song is bad but it’s no where near the high note that OMR was. Smog City has no real hook and instead has it’s verse interspersed with a lot of news sound bites of all the things LA has to deal with. And just as the EP began we close on a serious note.

After listening to the EP in it’s entirety, it’s probably for the best that it’s capped at 8 tracks. I say this because while I highly respect what Bambu stands and speaks for in his music, it’s all so heavy handed and serious that I’m not sure I could take more than small doses of it before it starts to become redundant. But with the EP format, that predicament is mostly avoided and I’m left with an enjoyable release with few missteps and a couple true highlights. Now let’s be 100% real, this isn’t club music, or party music, or even “chill in ya car and listen w/ friends type of music”. Barring an exception or two this is “put on ya head phones and vibe and pay attention” type of music. If you can appreciate some social commentary with your Hip-Hop and your palate goes beyond whatever the radio is playing then I strongly recommend this release. If the album were any longer I may have had some more reservations but in an age where we guzzle down syrupy pop rap all the time it’s refreshing to be given a sobering shot of truth.

Must Listen: Slow Down, Correctly Done, The Queen is Dead, Sondalo, Old Man Raps

a-Tunes Score: 8.5/10

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