By Tairrie B and Brett Callwood, LA Weekly
I have many favorite albums, all of which I consider essential eclectic listening pleasures. Each serves a unique purpose, depending on my current mood. Is This Desire (PJ Harvey) is a favorite to revisit on those long dark nights when insomnia strikes and I need to calm a restless mind. Her words + music have always been so healing. At the moment, I’m in the studio recording, and due to the current unprecedented political climate, I find myself drawn to music that represents a different type of healing. The polar opposite of the haunting voice that is Polly Jean Harvey.
Multi-talented Bay area rapper Paris is a true artist in every sense of the word and an anomaly in the hip-hop world. In 1990, he dropped his controversial and now seminal debut, The Devil Made Me Do It, on Tommy Boy Records. That same year, which was a few years before I began screaming in metal bands, I dropped my debut hip-hop album, The Power Of A Woman on Eazy E’s Comptown Records. Being a white female rapper 30 years ago, I could also be considered a bit of an anomaly myself within the black male-dominated world of rap. I was introduced to the music of Paris on a West Coast mixtape a DJ friend in L.A. had made me at the time featuring the song Scarface Groove which ultimately led me to buy his album. Since then, I’ve continued to be a fan, and he has continued to release prolific and politically charged, revolutionary recordings that were prophetically ahead of their time and remain vital to this day.
After nine albums and countless years of touring with my band, I decided it was time to revisit my past and record a new hip hop album. In 2015, I released Vintage Curses which next to Ghosts and Good Stories by My Ruin, is my personal favorite recording to date. A dark and witchy, feminist journey back to my roots with a classic West Coast influence. I sampled a line from Paris in the hook of one of my hooks, so I decided to look him up on social media, say hello, and let him know. Coincidentally, he told me he was about to release a new (double) album as well via his own label Guerilla Funk Records.
When I first heard Pistol Politics, it blew my mind for many reasons. It still does.
The self-proclaimed Black Panther of hip-hop has always been an outspoken raptivist with an omnipresent urgency to his striking lyrical prowess but, this was next level thought-provoking artistic resistance. To me, Pistol Politics extends beyond the simple boundaries of hip hop. It’s a call to action. From his inherently powerful vocal delivery and timeless lyricism to his massive weighty production, these recordings are a harrowing reckoning that should come with a trigger warning: not for the faint of heart. Every track is required listening. Whether addressing systemic racism, civil liberties, police brutality or gun violence, Paris isn’t afraid to speak hard truths to power and empower his listeners with violently poetic protest polemics and fierce indictments within a landscape of politically driven, intelligently written, clever wordplay. Unlike most hardcore rap albums, Pistol Politics boasts no misogyny or the usual sexism. It’s a welcome relief to hear a man speak so raw and self-aware without engaging in the blatant disrespect towards women that has plagued the majority of his male counterparts in the genre today and yesterday. He’s having none of it. He never has. In fact, Paris has never compromised when it comes to his art or sold himself out to the lowest common denominator for commercial success. He remains constant with his consciousness, never veering from his mission statement, which is why he is often underappreciated for his contributions to hip-hop. But those who know, know, and the respect runs deep.
Whether writing, rapping, producing, or video directing, Paris is an original who is a master at his craft. He brings an unapologetic middle finger with a raised fist and old school vet vibe to this album with both his vocal delivery and musical content yet manages to keep it fresh and relevant. Something missing in today’s modern era hip-hop filled with overly auto-tuned nonsense being pushed to the mainstream masses from the music industry and commercial radio hacks. I think that’s why I love it. Where other rappers often try hard to sound hard, he just is, and that’s why Pistol Politics is as real as it gets. This is not easy listening rap; It’s the standard other rappers should strive to be measured by. Introspective, in your face, radical left realism and it’s that intent behind it, which defines it. Besides Paris, the album also boasts cameos from underground rap luminaries Kam, E40, The Eastsiderz, T-K.A.S.H and WC — another well-respected hip-hop OG who’s debut album We’re In This Together (also released in 1990) with his former group Low Profile is another favorite rap album of mine. Collaborations that make for a lethal combination.
As we continue to wear face masks, social distance and quarantine ourselves with the United States quickly approaching almost 150,000 deaths due to the incompetence of this president to honestly address the Coronavirus or the true message behind the ongoing protests, America is in a state of emergency. We have the most openly racist president in modern history referring to the #BLM movement as a “symbol of hate” while stoking white fear, resentment, and division in between denying and downplaying the Covid-19 crisis and claiming the upcoming election may be rigged (if he doesn’t win) in an attempt to hold on to his power at all costs.
The very real possibility of Martial Law (which Paris predicted on this album) being implemented throughout various cities in the months leading up to our next election and the future death of democracy feels closer every day. Right now, the hip-hop world could use a blistering new album from Paris before November 3rd. I hope we get one! In the meantime, I recommend this album to anyone in need of some honest, potent, angry, impassioned rage musical therapy to get you through the next few months into 2021 and what will hopefully be the end of this corrupt as fuck, four-year American horror story, reality shit-show Donald Trump presidency. Vote BLUE and listen to Paris motherfucker. #BlackLivesMatter