Written By: Ethan Griggs
My Music: ethangriggsmusic.virb.com
Originality: (4 / 5) Vocals/Flow: (3 / 5) Lyrics: (4 / 5) Production: (5 / 5) Average: (4 / 5)
Lexington, Kentucky conscious hip-hop trio CunninLynguists have been making exceptional music for over fifteen years. Said to have one of the largest lexicons (or vocabularies) in the genre, the incredibly prolific act consisting of rapper and producer Kno as well as emcees Deacon the Villain and Natti have just released their fourth extended play, The Azura EP, and it is another small slice of soulful rap serendipity. Clocking in at just under twelve minutes, the EP covers themes of faith and social unjust narrated through the unique perspectives of three different rappers. Serving as a companion piece of sorts to The Rose EP, the disc gets its name from Azura, the daughter of Adam and Eve, and the ideas pursued by the trio are those of a younger generation being commanded by God to enact change.
The opening track “Violet (The Upper Room)”, with its broken piano sample and classic sounding boom-bap beat, Deacon expresses his thoughts on America’s current political landscape and “the one day where Adam got it right”. “One nation under a God kickin’ us out/‘Cause America took and takes the infamous route/As we state from state to state let’s be great again/Let’s forget the salient struggle of each alien” sounds like a crazy yet accurate current state of our nation.
On “Gone (f. Trizz)”, the trio is more urgent and urban sounding. The featured rapper provides one of the EP’s great refrains: “They trying to get us out the hood, them people want us (gone)/So stressed, smoking good til the marijuana’s (gone)/Crack a Corona, just zone while I’m sipping on it/And start to count the last days ’cause the shit’s upon us”. It’s a state of mind that isn’t unfamiliar with many people out there nowadays, especially in CunningLynguist’s demographic. Natti and Deacon exchange verses that are almost as disparaged as they are inspiring.
The best track on the record is the jazzy and sorrowful closer “Any Way The Wind Blows”. The songs follows a loose through-line of a story between two cousins, one who’s a dancer and one who’s suicidal. The three Lynguists together weave the melancholy narrative between the cries of a saxophone. The powerful final verse comes from Kno, as he delivers the story’s tragic ending: “Clutching to a moment and atoning for something/She lays by the phone, in a zone, feeling nothing/She reaches back to change the wax/As Cannonball plays the sax she fades to black”.
On The Azura EP, CunninLynguists argue for their already secured spot of fame in the underground hip hop scene. They allege that there is still good to be found in the everyday neighborhoods of America even if the news tells us otherwise. Even through the blue and bleak tone of the music, the group’s positivity remains at the forefront.