California is the birthplace of two distinct musical styles – California reggae and west-coast rap. Indeed, there’s no need to argue that reggae and rap is widespread around the globe: neither are new concepts and both stand as conglomerates of many musical influences put together. However, California is the one place that gives both genres a discernible difference, and the early to mid-90s is when this shift really took effect. The golden state in the 90s was home to a plethora of reggae and rap pioneers like Snoop Dogg, Sublime, Tupac, Slightly Stoopid (yes, they are mid-90s, modern reggae lovers), and, of course, the kings of Compton themselves, N.W.A… to name a few of the most notable artists.
More than two decades later, west coast rap and California reggae is deeply rooted in music history forever. Yet, blending them is still a novel concept. Enter, Skanks Roots Project (SRP). Dj Skanks, a hip hop/reggae enthusiast of the Bay Area, always bridges the gap of NorCal/SoCal styles by collaborating with San Diego-based musicians, thus aptly dubbing his band a true ‘Roots Project’. Working towards the release of his third full-length album at C major Studios in San Diego, SRP recently gave fans a taste of the LP with their first single “Blown”, featuring son of the godfather of gangster rap Easy-E. That’s right, Easy-E3 (or Lil E, Baby Easy-E, among other designations) is on the track! Produced by Christopher Murray and Sam Guest, other guest artists on the track include Eddie Blunt, Danny Dread, J. Rips, and Mike Ep. Clearly, the Skanks Roots Project mobs deep.
“Blown” gets people in the zone while keeping it homegrown.
In homage to N.W.A., “Blown” proffers a cruisin’ the streets mentality – something to bump on a Friday afternoon as your boy rolls a blunt in the backseat. The gangster rap booming bassline and high-pitched synthesizer combo meets the familial reggae bubble organ in this track, making it amicable to the masses. Although boasting a “puff puff, pass” lifestyle, the track has some underlying social commentary as well. For instance, the chorus – sung by Eddie Blunt – dictates that weed smoking is the only way not to lose your mind with “all the propaganda they be playin’ on TV”. With society’s morals so skewed today, it’s much better to mesh over marijuana than to disconnect with mankind due to negative mass media. To push this even more, the second verse – featuring Skanks’ signature spoken word style lyrics – dials up the noise to make it seem like he’s broadcasting his message through the radio waves, similar to a public service announcement. Attention: weed is the answer to this media circus. So, what is there to do? Well, the answer is in the track’s bridge with a call to action: the “earth provides all the medicine we need”, so do your part, “get up and plant a seed”. With a shoutout to San Diego and Cali love, “Blown” gets people in the zone while keeping it homegrown.
The Skanks Roots Project players are currently touring with reggae chanteuse Janelle Phillips, and is scheduled to perform at San Diego’s 710 Beach Club on May 10th. At this point in time, there is no concrete date for SRP’s third album, but the band has proclaimed it due out later this year. For now, fans of SRP can get their fix with “Blown” now available on all major digital outlets.
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Release Date: May 13, 2016 • (C) 2016 Roots Musician Records
Disclaimer: All views presented in this album review are those of the reviewer and not necessarily those of Top Shelf Music.