Rasheed Chappell Rasheed ChappellFuture Before Nostalgia
Cards on the table: “Future Before Nostalgia”; Rasheed Chappell; Kenny Dope; New Jersey-Brooklyn. An MC, only four cameos on the album, two of them by DJ Scratch. A unique, legendry producer: half of Masters At Work (idolised in clubs worldwide in the nineties, kings of house, remix boy wonders) and a walking encyclopaedia of funk, Latin and, most of all, hip-hop. Still in our memory, that anthological set, “Hip hop Forever”, on which Dope linked some of the absolute anthems of the golden age with class, style and wisdom. The two of them meet in the neighbourhood, join forces and come up with a record that takes classicism as a declaration of principles but also as a source of inspiration to look ahead. A shining example that it's possible to live without caring about any context; turning nostalgia for a better past into a missile.
On “Future Before Nostalgia”, the DJ scratches, the producer arms a cohesive sound - solid and care-free - and the MC spits courageous rhymes, ingenious and personal. Unbelievable as it may seem to many people: this is how it was done in the old days. And it worked. As if by divine intervention, there's no sign of T-Pain, Lil Wayne or Drake; fortunately, Rasheed Chappell doesn't sing or hum in the choruses; there's no allusion to Louis Vuitton, Gucci or Chanel in his lyrics; no R&B background vocals; the record doesn't distinguish between singles and songs; and, of course, electronic beats, dodgy guitars, indie-rock links and synthesisers are strictly forbidden. Auto-what now? A retro wonder, a table full of remedies for the tics of modern rap, one hell of a debut. First of all, because it brings us a talented new rhymer, elegant behaviour and a total connection with the old school. Chappell - unlike many young guns with their brains shot to pieces by bad herbs - doesn't want to be the new Jay-Z or the new Weezy, but the new Big Daddy Kane, the new Rakim or the new Slick Rick. You can hear that in his excellent lyrics and meticulous flow - red threads on an exciting trip through the golden age of the genre.
Secondly, that production. Incredible. The fact that it has to be Kenny Dope - who many of us thought retired from the game - to come and show the beat makers how it's done is as unexpected as it is appropriate. The New Yorker dusts of his MPC, loads the diskettes with memorable loops and comes up with a set of unbeatable beats that send chills down my spine. His work here is so rich, so inspired, that you get the feeling you're listening to a brilliant 1994 album with some 2011 fire. A lesson of modernity. Indestructible chemistry. Many of us will end up melting the CD playing it over and over again. Another illustrious debut, one of those that provoke dropping jaws among those who grew up with nineties hip-hop and those who came afterwards but want to recover its essence. The “Below The Heavens” and “Marcberg” of 2011. The best possible antidote to the stupidity reigning in present-day hip-hop. A fast and thorough cure to overcome the tiredness brought on by all the Drake clones. The antithesis of the latest Lil Wayne. The kryptonite for hipsters. The much needed evidence that records can still be made like they used to be and that they sound more intense and alive than the modern ones.