“I don’t care who’s behind the boards or on top of the mix, I feel boredom settin’ in like the top of the 6th, poppin’ a disc, dismissed, I can resist”
- Noesis of Philadelphia Slick, “R&B Stole The Show”
And resist they do. MC Noesis and his gang of instrumentalists (a.k.a. Philadelphia Slick) have successfully abstained from the realm of insubstantial, pop-oriented hip hop for nearly three years. With group size ranging from 3 members to 12 members and lyrical content covering everything from Philly crime to the current pop music scene, this versatile act has earned a devoted fan base within the city of Brotherly Love and beyond. Their OurStage profile is replete with judging excellence badges, connector icons and top channel prize awards—several of which are first place. Not content with having two superb albums under their belt, the band keeps their nose to the grindstone in hopes of reaching music’s promised land. Their chances of breaking: very likely.
Sonically, their noise is locked tighter than a baby band’s budget. So compact it might as well have been produced by a computer with looped samples and an internal metronome, but it wasn’t, making everything that much more impressive. Unlike the many instrumental hip hop acts that force their overzealous musicianship into genre not meant for musical virtuosity, the players from Philadelphia Slick keep it cool, calm and collected. You won’t hear any wayward solos or elementary tones sprouting from these horns; they know exactly what they’re doing. Besides, excessive instrumental variation would only dilute MC Noesis’ poetic prowess. With lines like “Stand back/ rock anonymous atop acropolis/ the shots persistent as the oppositions lock position/ there’s a lot of vicious competition/ optimism is a pompous schism/ so drop and listen,” this guy is skilled. When his fistfuls of verbiage float above the well-oiled beats, the resulting sound is what hip hop was always intended to be.
“Gonna Get Over” is an upbeat rabble rouser guaranteed to ignite inspiration in any heavily burdened worker. starting with, “To my people out there who ain’t livin’ legit/ all people out there creatin’ diggin’ for hits/ all workers out there straight clickin’ through shifts/ tune out for the minute and say/ Gonna Get Over.” After these words, they spin the angle back towards themselves “Try to make it with an honest rap/ be new but pay homage back.” And finally, they unite both parties with the line “Everyone out there that’s still strugglin’/ Survival got you buggin’/ But you’re alive on arrival/ even if your boss downsize you/ put your hands in the air and say/ Gonna Get Over.” The moral of the “Gonna Get Over” story is to focus on the good. Conquer the bad (you’ll feel much better when you do) and get back on track. Because let’s face it, you don’t really have a choice. Musically, bass and drums lock together in the beginning of every verse until the descending xylophone enters, resolving straight into a perfectly synchronized saxophone and xylophone riff in the chorus.
“Hunt V. Kill” paints a disturbingly realistic picture of street crime in Philly and gun control in general. The overcast verses emit an eerie vibe, no instruments but drums, bass, some sort of synthesized harp and airy vocals from singer Jenn Z. During the choruses, they insert sound bytes from police press releases and news stories on crime around the Philadelphia area. Presumably, these reports are depressing, but the group is able to represent the seemingly indifferent attitude of those not immediately affected these events with the music. The chorus is major and carefree, like rampant violence is no big deal at all. With “la-la-las” sung by Jenn Z’s ethereal voice and a steadily repeated 1-4-1 chord progression, the sound produced is very ironic when juxtaposed against the lyrics.
The second to last audio clip in the song presents someone giving a speech on handgun regulation, saying that the only purpose of handguns in the city of Philadelphia is not to hunt animals or target practice, it is to kill people hence the title “Hunt V. Kill.” “R and B Stole the Show” is self-explanatory. Beginning with a quirky, distorted polka beat, the song eventually transforms into a four minute and twenty-two second insult aimed in the direction of modern pop music. “R and B stole the show/ It don’t know how to sing don’t know how to flow/ R and B stole the show/ It’s not quality but that’s how it goes.” With lines like “Do us both a favor/ And turn the radio off,” we can be sure that Philidelphia Slick is confident in their unique identity, an essential personality and musical trait in the rapper-eat-rapper world of hip hop.
The group is about to embark on a mini tour in support of their new album, Oil, released in May. Check out their OS profile page and their recently debuted website to see if they’re coming to a venue near you!