Proverb The Poet – For The Kids
Occasionally I post reviews on albums that I feel truly exceed the genre’s expectations or perhaps speak deeply to me or my circumstances. Proverb the Poet’s (now known simply as London O’Connor) album ‘For The Kids’ certainly fits into those categories and many more. From the opening of the album, to the very last track, ‘For The Kids’ has my completely devoted attention. I would unashamedly rate this album 5 out of 5. From the beats, to rhyme schemes, to lyrical content, Proverb has created a masterpiece.
First off the beats…my goodness, the beats; WOW! Seriously, from the samples, to a live band, to the production quality, this is the kind of album I would gratefully listen to if it was strictly instrumentals. The kind of album I could sit down and play with my dad (if he was still alive). This is that boom bap. The kind of music that reignites my hope in the future of hip-hop. It’s beautifully mixed and captures a long lost feel in music that I feel when I listen to albums Herb Alpert & The Tijuana Brass, The 5th Dimension and Simon & Garfunkel. You don’t trifle with this caliber of art.
Second, is the lyrical content from Proverb. If you’re looking for an album (or an artist for that matter) that is gonna spend his time talking about the usual mainstream trash, like money, street cred or how nice he is; keep walking. Proverb doesn’t waste a single track just to add filler. This is the kind of album you give to your nieces, nephews and kids to give them a proper perspective on the world and their future. Proverb covers numerous topics including his desire to reach people through music, the trash that radio promotes, ghostwriting, the pain of a father separated from his child, his faith in Christ, his appreciation for the discipleship he received from Beleaf of theBREAX and more.
Enough with the generalities. Let me walk you through this album and explain in a bit more depth why I love ‘For The Kids’.
The first track on the album titled ‘Beyond Stars’ begins quietly with a nice crackly electric organ/synth sample (moog?) and Proverb speaking in the background. In comes Proverbs lyrics and the rest of the drums. It’s just me, but the intro always triggers my memory of :30-:45 of It’s Tha by Mission…but I digress. “Convertin letters into symbols, embeddin instrumentals, my 16 bars never fall simple.”
Second is ‘Narcolepsy’. Proverb vents his anger and frustrations with rap and life, including, but not limited to ghostwriting, the jerk scene, crappy shows, mainstream rap fake image and bloated egos. “I elevate like I don’t know where the ceiling went and before I fall asleep on yall I’m finna get militant.”
‘The If’ starts with a vocal sample and comes in with that funky guitar groove. Proverb speaks about how things could and should be, both his vision and the current status of the city. “Put the enemies behind the telescreens, tell the public mean things about their morals and their dreams, so they become wrong for not being us, we are leaders, we are not concerned with us being just and anyone who disagrees needs adjustment” Woooooo, TELL EM!
‘Through The Park’ has that summer, sunshine, sesame street (feel good childhood) sound. I hear this beat and it can completely change my mood. I’m talkin about I just got fired from my job, got punched in the face by a taco shop mascot and I have the flu, but everything is gonna be alright. “Cause they had some kids, young evangelists, I could stand the flip, with a record skip and a lisp. Don’t be rancorous, be the salt of the earth and know your worth homie, you was handed gifts”
If the drums and the horns on ‘Right Now’ don’t make you want to move, you’re either paraplegic or dead. Seriously, that’s too monster to just sit there and listen; you’re neck better be breakin on this. Not to mention Beleaf kills it when he comes in. “You’re lookin like you’re likin this a little bit and I’m convinced that likin it a little ain’t enough to stay committed so, let’s get in it and be submitted to the creator, not the one within it”
‘Sunday Thoughts’ has that perfect morning feeling, you could set this as the alarm on your phone. Give me this and bowl of cereal in the morning and I’m set. “Crazy chicks constantly come callin me, claimin crushes cause I stepped on em and sad cause I slept on em like matresses” “Peace to the Father for the Son and His saving grace, the Messiah’s bread of life and saving me a plate.”
Enter Congas and the sweet serenade of a couple of vocal samples and you have ‘Eleven Years’ “So stand as tall as a pen, in the land of expansion that’s ran to it’s end, rampant with sin, but nobody wins and the records that spin protect us, pretend that it’s safe”
Proverb starts spitting before the beat drops and it’s definitely worth it when it comes in. As the beat builds we come to the climax with that mad soulful vocal sample “So I’ll just live my life”. Whew, that should transmit the man’s sorrow to anyone. “Til the day when my pen runs dry, from all of yall with your hands up high, even days when the sun don’t shine, waitin for my moment of truth in due time”
I can only assume it isn’t an easy thing to make a vibraphone, piano and a sax play nice, but regardless it works REALLY well for ‘Four Words’. Hit about 1:45 and Ruslan of theBREAX joins in. I dig how often Ruslan can take doctrine and make it seem so simple. “I never knew how long I lived fatherless, thinkin my father was pissed, but I was shocked when I realized that it was I who actually dipped” “But I digress, I’m just being honest, as the father finally fulfilled his promise, I was liberated from my bondage free to fly, but I could clear out an airport just like a bomb threat”
‘M(other) Like You’ starts off with the sounds of a city bus and brings in a woman’s voice singing with slightly somber complimentary samples. Proverb tells a story about an experience he has while riding the bus. He notices a man on the bus and decides to try and start up a conversation. The man opens up to him and shares his story. He had gotten a woman pregnant accidentally and how he writes letters to his barely known son. He tells him about how wonderful his mother is. “Son, I saw your moms last week and it’s been 6 years since we got to speak, it’s hard for me to talk ’cause the scar is deep, saw her feet, told me that her walk ain’t sweet”
‘Walk The Truth’ is about the struggles of walking in Christ. The ways we fail in living for Christ, our personal sin and ultimately putting our faith in Him. Beleaf puts down another group of nice lines “Me and my decisions had me in a bad business, then I tried to live my life sinless, I would never win this, but wait, when did I begin this journey? He musta seen me out on a gurney, but the devil will never defeat me so he don’t concern me. I tried to live my life Christ like, it turned me, then I tried to find time for me to learn me.”
Proverb shares his heart on his desire to be able to reach people with his music on ‘From A Window’. “I look at all of the facts, instead of stickin to that, I reach for things that’s not proven, they say that’s not prudent and positivity’s the biggest key to makin sure you’re never affluent”
“Sarah Blessman’ is encouraging track that shares his optimism in his current situations as well as the future and the ability for music to change people. “I know I never made the image my major, I’m brothers with strangers and my savior’s from a manger.”
‘Aperture’ starts off pretty beast and just gets bigger, building up to “…upon the path where the grey walk friendly, I want colors, so the canvas made in me, won’t reflect dim, but the divine who sent me. So, I empty my thoughts upon poems, so rhymes roam in flocks that know not home”
To finish off the album, Proverb gives us ‘Lets Go Outside’. A live band plays in the background as drops his last song and he gives thanks to people who helped him in his life as well as his album. “Hey now, hey now lets go outside, I wanna see the sunlight yall, I wanna see the sunlight.” This is a nice closing to such a sincere album. Not only that, but it flows nicely into the first track if you (like me) have it on repeat 20 times in a row.
Well, if you haven’t snatched up the album yet, I hope you enjoyed this overview and in turn you’ll download a copy and pass it on to other people as well. Proverb deserves WAY more attention than he gets; besides it’s a great album. As a side note, you can head over BigSto’s blog and get it for free. Now you have NO excuse to not have this album.
Grace and peace; CORAM DEO!