Everyone is talking about the economy these days. I hear about it at work where senior servers lament what sounds like it’s been a steady decline in business for the last few years. I hear about if from my mom who is a CPA. I hear it from cats we try to sell a CD too. Money is tight.
Bodega Man is a twenties something emcee from the same hood that raised Snoop Dogg three decades ago. Another find from the constant bandcamp digging The Jazz Album: Recession Thinking actually dropped in February but time has treated this album well.
The beats are handled by an unknown cat named A.T. who concocts his own brand of funky grooves. With Jazz in the title you have to be wondering if that is of any significance - it is! The beats carry with them a distinct feel, something that had to have come from hours listening to and chopping up old vinyls. Sometimes it’s loud horns, sometimes it’s a sprinkling of piano keys. Whatever it is, it’s always layered over some dusty drums.
While so many beatmakers are concerned with getting drum kits “used by Dre” or another famous producer A.T. shows off his originality not being stuck any one sound. He doesn’t bother himself with the heaviest of drums or the deepest of basslines, he works with what he has and breathes life into his tracks with a good ear for what sounds should be placed together more so than what sounds your average rap fan thinks must be in a beat.
This is Bodega Man’s album though and he doesn’t let you ignore the fact. He is a good emcee with a precise flow that can ride these beats swimmingly. His youth in the LBC, his central American heritage, his college education and his struggle to make a buck in this recession are all topics he speaks on intelligently and honestly.
A graduate of a California State college he addresses the intricacies of dealing with finical aid at an institution of higher learning as well his frustrations with the student loan systems in place - like so many people who crave an education and get knocked down by the bureaucracies in place Bodega Man captures an all to common struggle familiar to anyone who’s stepped foot on a college campus.
Work is also addressed here. Specifically the lack of power a dollar has any longer verses how hard one works to earn that buck. He isn’t breaking new ground, we all struggle with money and surviving off what we earn. Hip Hop has more often than not for the last many years been caught up in lavish extravagance which holds no weight here. Bodega Man isn’t balling out of control and throughout the album you get the sense he wouldn’t if he could.
The Jazz Album: Recession Thinking is a product of a time that America won’t be forgetting anytime soon. Bodega Man delivered a timely album fueled by problems not uncommon to many in these days and times. Over A.T.’s smooth and funky backdrops he tells stories and conveys a message of strength in the face of whatever is trying to keep you from shinning. Bodega Man didn’t allow it to restrict him from doing what he loves, what are you waiting to achieve?