By Brian McManus, XXL
On the perpetual heels of yet another mass shooting in America, no song out right now sounds as prescient as Paris’ “Buck Buck Pass.” Off his new, ambitious double album, it packs a pertinent punch. As the record’s lead single (if you can call it that), the track sees Paris—angry and frustrated as ever—writing from the perspective of firearms themselves, and he runs down in enlightening and sobering fashion how destructive an influence they’ve been over America’s short, violent history. Guns “fill caskets” with brutal efficiency and are allowed to do so because it’s mostly young Black men on the receiving end of the bullets, Paris muses.
In the song’s video, we see rifles and handguns streaming off the assembly line at a staggering pace, well-stocked gun store shelves and images of Americans whose lives have ended prematurely due to guns (John Lennon, MLK, Malcolm X, Jam Master Jay, Kurt Cobain) flash quickly by on the screen. It packs quite a wallop. That no one has paid much attention to the song, or the album it’s on—the 27-track Pistol Politics (Guerilla Funk Recordings), released on Sept. 11—isn’t all that surprising. Paris has been rapping hard truths about America to anyone who would listen for just about a quarter-century now. He’s one of the towering figures in a long line of political rap acts—Public Enemy, X Clan, The Coup, dead prez—most fans of hip-hop turn a deaf ear to. Odd, considering it seems his message would resonate now more than ever in a time where we have to be reminded that #BlackLivesMatter and George Zimmerman is selling paintings of the Confederate flag.
Elsewhere on Pistol Politics, Paris hits on many of the same themes he’s touched on in albums past—Black on Black crime, the corporatization of prisons that profit from it—and is joined by other politically-minded rappers (T-K.A.S.H., The Conscious Daughters, dead prez). He even gets a verse from fellow Bay Area heavyweight E-40 on the track “Search Warrant.” The album’s tracklist is a hint that Paris isn’t content to slow down anytime soon. He’ll be hitting these notes until he’s six feet deep.
“Hard Truth Soldier,” “Raid,” “Lethal Warning Shot,” “Hold the Line,” “Martial Law,” the aforementioned “Buck Buck Pass” and the album’s title track are all standout cuts, souped up with a Bomb Squad-esque type of production that’ll have listeners banging their heads instead of just nodding. Other songs, particularly those with sung hooks, fall a bit flat, but only in the context that they seem to differ from the tougher than leather theme the rest of the album strikes.
Pistol Politics is an exhaustive listen, but also a much-needed dose of medicine. Since 2003's Sonic Jihad, Paris has demonstrated over and over that he’s unafraid to tell you what he thinks, even when he skirts over to unfortunate Truther territory. Once Donald Trump is elected president, we’ll maybe wish we’d all listened more closely to Paris.