By Dana Scott, HipHopDX
Paris has fought for both his music and people near the poverty line for the entirety of his twenty-five-year career. The San Francisco rapper continues his attack on all branches of government in Pistol Politics, with a Blank Panther mentality and “Gat Turner” persona urging his neighbors and blacks to rally with him. The beats contain samples acute in their timing for the purpose of taking the song into new directions of Paris’s life narrative as well as many others to show their days are numbered if they don’t get off their ass to fight back.
On the opening cut “Lethal Warning Shot,” Paris raps: “Let’s get this motherfucker crackin’/Hard truth revolutionary back rappin’/Back on the map finna bring that black back in/And stop acting like the black movement is past-tense”
The clock second-hand ticking and gunshot sound effects are part of the percussion that drives the song forward. This also sets the tone for the rest of the album, and the upbeat tempo gives the album a decent start. On the second track “Bring That Slap Back,” it sounds like hard Bay Area downbeat funk with a touch of cheesy synth keyboards and a brass-laden bridge. One of the brightest moments early in the album is “Truce Music.” This is a solid R&B-flavored bounce that samples British R&B group Loose Ends’ 1985 classic single “Hangin’ On A String,” that has features from T-K.A.S.H., K.E.V., Millenium, and B3HREE speaking on how the truce spoke to why gangs need to consolidate their territories and curb their violence. The chorus is:
“I’ma put away my rag and get to ballin’ / Toss my strap for the bigger calling / Truce music / I’ma put away my rag for the ones that’s dead and gone / My head is strong/my bread is long.”
The album’s single “Buck, Buck, Pass” shows Paris being as spry in his lyrical dexterity as he was on Sleeping With The Enemy. He personifies guns taking on lives of their own and just being passed as easily as blunts to create another casualty, whether random or targeted. Paris attacks race even on this track regarding the gun law debate, “From city to city, to backyard / Even Newtown, CT, now y’all wanna banned my clips, hypocrites / Who never gave a damn about a black teen dying / Quit lying.”
The title track is a lesson to his black brethren on how to combat racist, trigger-happy police officers. The song has Mary J Blige’s 1992 hit single “Love Without A Limit” as the melody inspired chorus. “Don’t engage a pig if you have to / Never tell them they can search, that’s the worst move / Fuck a protest, this ain’t the ‘60s, they could give a fuck if niggas get they ass whooped quickly / Since we on that protest shit / No you ain’t protestin’ if you askin’ permission / Stop putting all your business in the street / Facebook is just another way for police to infiltrate”
The album pulls off a feat that is difficult for double LPs, which is to put all of the songs in their rightful places. And it’s timely as a full-circle moment for his career, and a full-circle moment for society at large. The interludes keep your attention through the album in a smooth direction with each track; “The Greatest,” which juxtaposes the mantra of America being the greatest country in the world by way of statistical analysis that sounds like Michael Moore on a rap album, the heavy yet mellow groove with Marvin Gaye’s “What’s Goin’ On” sample loop accompanied by a Bobbi Humphrey-esque flute by Katisse Buckingham, and “Robert’s Theme” is reminiscent of the 1980s quintessential rap album track dedicated to exclusively feature the deejay’s skills with minimal to no vocals from the emcee. The lion’s growl samples make it a bit too busy and it feels like it’s trying to hard to fit into the track. But the keyboards, 808 basslines, and turntable wizardry make for a great filler to segue to another of the album’s singles, “Night of the Long Knives.”
This song yet again addresses black suffering and injustice, and declaring “the only language that America speaks is violence.” The Malcolm X speech sample can make any listener raise their right fist to the underlying “no justice, no peace” chant. The rapid gunfire provides the intensity, and the lion comes back to growl, allegorically detailing how day to day America eats its young and poor. For this emcee, there seems to be no escape from being caught in the belly of the U.S. government’s beast.
In today’s America, where we are now more war-torn in our own classrooms than countries abroad, Paris doubles up on Pistol Politics to show an intelligent approach to the problem at hand. But with an onslaught of production that has a West Coast bounce, straightforward duple-metered drum beats, and occasional keyboards that find their way to fit in the track, Paris crafts a deft double-disc worthy of the weighty moniker, Pistol Politics.