Hope Abounds on Emcee’s New Album Red Man
As a social construct, rap music’s evolution from the 1970’s to the end of the 21st century’s second decade is a particularly curious one. Its many phases have included its perception as a passing fad, a revolutionary tool, a forum for gangsta posturing, and its current status as a perpetual celebration of material excess.
Yet along the way, it’s still managed to remain a potentially commercially viable medium for perpetuating each of these agendas—and much more. In the hands of Hope, a British Columbia emcee who dropped the 12-track album Red Man (Rudegang Entertainment) over the summer, rap’s platform becomes something more altogether.
Red Man is partly based on social, historical, contemporary, economic, and global issues—many of which have defined our current existence as it manifests today. With songs entitled “Stand Up”, “Red Man”, “Fuck That”, and “Rage”, it’s quite apparent the album is thematically dealing with the cultural marginalization and displacement of Native Americans with one of the most ubiquitous mediums around the world—rap music.
Plus, Hope’s brought along a cast of characters to assist in this cohesive pastiche of songs that collectively function greater than an assortment of singles ever could. Mamarudegyal MTHC lights up the vocals on “Generosity”. Her voice is pristine, immediately notable, and well suited for the sonorous keyboards. She not only accentuates the hook but actually puts down a verse (singing) while all but threatening to steal the show. The song is also bolstered by an appearance by Doob, who manages to match the pace of Hope’s flows with just a little more street life in his voice, helping to counterpoint the precision of Hope’s own vocals.
The trio are joined by Alpha Omega on the subsequent track “Rage”. Mama’s voice again highlights the affair while the rappers weave in and out of her crooning with deliberate, double time flows. The majority of the album was produced by Onata and Mayo Beats; the tracks rarely exceed 85 beats per minute.
“Opening Ceremony”, the first number, is one of the few exceptions in this respect. It’s easily the hardest cut on the whole collection, with a booming bassline, snapping snare, and not much else besides intermittent talking from Hope to introduce the whole affair. The track truly sets the tone for the rest of the opus and demonstrates the potential Hope and his brethren have.