image courtesy of @t_wentt
There is something special about the Crooked album that for me solidified Propaganda's genius.
I'm working through the album, still. Of course we know true albums reviews aren't complete after a week, despite culture. Nevertheless, we can call this an initial album sentiment.
A good friend and all-around trap gawd said something to me about Propaganda that has stuck with me throughout writing this. He compared Prop to K-dot. While he can respect them both for their lyricism, something about their delivery causes their music to not resonate easily. They are artists who represent a distinct part of culture, yet they talk above the heads of some. My words, not his.
While Prop's musicality might not appeal to all, this is what makes his album beam hip hop. His lyrics read like battle rap, beats like a rebirth. Propaganda goes classically hard, yet remains modernly sound. It is a delicate & beautiful balance he plays throughout the album weaving between classic, and concerned. He's somewhere in the 1980s and somewhere in the 3000s simultaneously. It's not for those who don't willingly want to enter that world with him, however, though I wish we all could. He is present, yet partial both in his style, delivery and rhymes. His partiality is that he embodies so much at once, not really allowing himself to be pinned down to any fixed labels. Any attentive Prop listener knows why this is however, and also knows it's a testiment to his many testimonies on, say it with me, intersectionality.
The term, "Crooked" might also work to emphasize partiality as a 'made-thing.' To emphasize our carnality while aiming to edify our spirit. That our worship is a filthy rag. That "we got fallen written all over us."
And Bear with Me.
A mood. A tale. A prematurely acclaimed classic.
Besides his ode to hip hop in dedicated songs like "Slow Cook," the album's biggest nod to hip hop, Crooked's entire approach aims to challenge. Hip hop has historically symbolized many things, but above all, it's commitment to challenge reigns truest. Good Kid M.A.A.D. City was for me a reestablished hope in the genre. So this challenge Prop poses, the symbolism of this album as a way to really wrestle with our imperfections resonates and rings on every song. It's what pushed me to write this.
Some might say "Prop, why are you always talking about Blackness, why you so political?" May I take the liberty here to say, his response might be: "Because I'm the son of a Black Panther." Or maybe: "It's Complicated" Though what I really think he'd say is, "because I'm cynical."
This album aims to challenge. A challenge is no less encouraging than hope. As I've mentioned before, hope is balance before it is ever perfection. It is nuance, it is a person whose "halo might stay balanced at the tip of [their] horns." Challenge propels us forward.
While Bear with Me might offer some Lemonade to wash down our dry bones, this album is still not made digestible. It's hip hop. It's an uneasy salvation story, an alternate listen to an apology story #444. It's classically current and hopefully concerned. ©
Propaganda is signed to Humble Beast Records. Humble Beast will host a conference this August with Western Seminary, Canvas. Excited & blessed to be attending, Propaganda will be speaking on the topic of "Positive Change: Art as Lament." I can't help but wonder if this talk will be the perfect summary of Crooked.
POST NOTES. Subscriber only content featuring extensive additional resources. It's sent straight to your inbox immediately following each new post. Sign up below, yeah?