RL in Entertainment. Discussion »
Red Bull Injected Bangers
Hip Hop has a long history of chronicling the day to day life of the underprivileged class. Nake Nula Waun, adapted from Nah-Kay New-Lah Wah-OOhn, a Lakota phrase that means "I am always ready, at all times, for anything," have tapped into this tradition. However, instead of the hearing an emcee weave a tale set in the streets of Brooklyn, New York or Compton, California, the Rosebud Reservation in South Dakota is the backdrop. Unfamiliar ground for Hip Hop.
In interviews the band members, Thomas Schmidt and Frank Waln, seem confident of their street credibility, comparing life on the rez with life in the streets.
On their debut album, "Scars and Bars," Nake Nula Waun set out to prove that they have the music elasticity and songwriting dexterity to create a sonically varied and memorable album. Songs like "Rise," "My Own Way," "Lavish" and "Livin' Our Dream" are high-energy Red Bull injected bangers, touting lyrics laced with the aspirations of two young men, which suit Nake Nula Waun like a fitted baseball cap. What these songs, and the album as a whole, lack in quality production value, they make up for in enthusiasm. But for an LP with the ridiculously bloated runtime of over an hour this enthusiasm begins to wear thin.
In short: they lack polish. The consequence is that the second half of the album exposes flaws that the listener was willing to overlook during the first half. Their limited production techniques, hackneyed lines ("couldn't cut the mustard and it's just too late to catch up"), and poorly sung hooks (I can't stress enough how much this group should look for another source to sing their hooks), begin to remind the listener that this group hasn't quite "made it" yet.
Nake Nula Waun is at its heart pumping, inspirational best when expressing the elation of having a dream. Be it to be a role model for the downtrodden or to leave the Rez behind. And that last thought is the most provocative concept of this album. "Scars and Bars" is not a particularly "Native" album. The scenery may be different (if only slightly), but we are left with two young men expressing their insecurities, experiences, and dreams. So it doesn't matter if the tales are set in Brooklyn or Compton, they are somewhere in the middle (South Dakota to be exact), and it doesn't matter that they are Native, because they are relating beyond themselves.
Link here to listen to sample tracks.
RL, Potawatomi, is a new reviewer of music for the Native News Network. His day job is personal banking in Chicago. He holds a dual Bachelor of Arts degree from Grand Valley State University in English and literature.
posted December 22, 2011 1:50 pm est
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