It’s been ten years since we got this underground classic joint from Queens emcee Blaq Poet and what a difference a decade makes. Now Blaq is a household name in the real hip hop community, Vanderslice has produced a number of dope albums over that time and Stu Bangas has entered the hip hop stratosphere with his production work – even winning the 2020 Raw Side Hip Hop Producer of the Year Award. So, with the early 2000’s largely being a ‘forgotten about’ period for quality hip hop, it was a pleasure to get one of my favourite albums and one that really cemented for me just how much I loved boom bap, but more so how much I really just gravitated to the real, uncompromising, bully rap.
But before we deep dive, let’s talk about the album cover and the fact this project is called a ‘soundtrack’ by Stu Bangas and Vanderslice. The artwork comes from an early 1980’s horror / psychological thriller movie titled “Lo squartatore di New York” or New York Ripper. It is a fittingly dark, gruesome and edgy flick that also seems to have worked well with the grimly lyrics and concept Blaq Poet delivered on the album – and it certainly could be used as a horror-movie score with it’s murky, maleficent tone. Not to mention, it perfectly captures the rawness of the music contained within….
So let’s talk about that. Back in 2011, this was abrasive and unashamedly menacing. The lyrical content and themes were aggressive, embodied violence and death and were really brutal. Fast forward to today, and it may have needed to be watered down a little, even for the realest of hip hop heads, but at the time it pushed the envelope and brought the terror and drama to your door. To that end, Stu Bangas and Vanderslice were up to the task, creating robust production that oozed serial killer through synths and bassline, much like bodies ooze blood when pierced. The braggadocio was there too, and Blaq Poet is an enigmatic emcee who thrives on being able to really enthral listeners with his flow.
The Screwball member didn’t do it alone though, enlisting some of the more equally as disturbed mic crushes of the time like R.A the Rugged Man who delivers a memorable performance on ‘Butcher Shop‘ and Army of the Pharaohs / Jedi Mind Tricks mic bully Vinnie Paz as well as countless others (Celph Titled, Chief Kamachi, Reef the Lost Cauze, Blacastan etc) who fit this mould of hardcore hip hop. It makes for some incredible music and the various voices also provide some variety throughout the album, one thing the production probably doesn’t quite achieve.
Blaq Poet Society was and still is an underground classic. We can argue all day about what constitutes a classic, but for me, this album really took things to a new level and it’s my kind of deal. When I’m in that mindset, I love to put on this dark, heavy, kick your teeth in style of hip hop and I love the fact it stays in this pocket for the duration. Over 40 mins (including remixes etc) where I can just get in the gym or zone out from the real world and into the maniacal mind of some of my favourite hip hop artists.
This album may not have garnered as much acclaim as it should have, although it certainly had a target audience in mind, but it’s a dope AF album. The rough, rugged and raw just isn’t seen like this as often anymore, but Blaq Poet Society certainly raised the bar and gave us plenty of listening value and inspired countless others to keep it gully.