Review: “Wakeup: The Awaken Project”

“Wakeup: The Awaken Project”

15 Aug, 2009 Michael Morgan

the-awaken-project2WakeUp enumerates in rap and rhyme the harsh realities of the world, but not for the sake of pathos; it still comes back to manifest destiny of the self but this time through the lens of the world around us; whether that world is one of love and harmony or that of hatred and destruction.

 

Texture is the difference between resonance and reverberation.  They both remain but it’s their imprint that differs. Resonance leaves some evidence while reverberation leaves the things shaken. On Ausuree Entertainment’s Awaken Project; the collective of artists, poets, and emcees create a contemporary mix of hip hop, poetry and rap. The songs may resonate, but it’s the poems that reverberate.

 

The key message on WakeUp is self-reliance: only you can control your destiny.  It is up to YOU and no one else. The powerful and ethereal poem “Waking“, by Eternal E sets the tone for the rest of the album: “Give to live and learn to be better.”  Mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, teachers helpers unite and arise. Instead of drowning one another we should be uplifting each other as individuals.  The poet is saying take responsibility for your own actions; pick yourself up when you fall, but don’t just rely on the community and charity of others, but rely on yourself most of all. This poem really resonated with me and was one of the strongest tracks on the album in terms of its straight-up and in-your-face delivery.    

 

WakeUp also enumerates in rap and rhyme the harsh realities of the world but not for the sake of pathos.  It still comes back to manifest destiny of the self, but this time through the lens of the world around us;  weather that world is one of love and harmony or that of hatred and destruction. “Street Knowledge” is a sharp contrast to the hope and self reliance of “Waking.” It’s like the song sequence itself is saying on one hand “this is how it should be” (“Waking”), but “this is where we’re at…” (“Street Knowledge”).  Street Knowledge’s hard-knocks grit has got some interesting 70s sounding fuzz guitars. This Starsky and Hutch-esque slow burning soundscape has gunshots and a quick trigger in-your-face chorus:  “We wasted money on war and drugs. We wasted money on war and guns. But all we really need is education. All the dollars we wasted got us cooking base in the basement.”

 

WakeUp also talks of love gone wrong with hip hop singer Cheszerae’s “Quick Love”.  “Love is not an express bus skipping local stops.  Take your time don’t rush”.  Less preachy and more personal than some of the other tracks, “Quick Love” is a song of advice; love takes time and that quick love is not REAL love.  “It’s Got to Be You”, another love song on the compilation; has a smooth and refreshing contemporary sound. Sonya Lachelle’s tender vocals remind me of Toni Braxton’s. The vocal fills and backing vocals make it work along with the smooth acoustic-driven rhythms. However, just when I felt like it was going to sweep me into an uplifting chorus, it never did, so I was slightly let down.   

 

The acerbic and terse poem “Walk It Out” was a highlight for me on this compilation, rounding out the lessons of struggle and strife, complementing “Waking,” the first track. The riveting poem talks about the struggles and obligations we have to ourselves and to society and how oftentimes they conflict with one another. “Walking It Out“is the coined phrase in this hip hop poem for dealing with this natural contention; coping and biting your tongue when you might disagree; keeping your cool. “Walk it out” in its soul-bearing sincerity, is what we try to say ourselves but is eloquently said by poet Wally B. Somebody.  I can imagine that the effective delivery of this poem to a live audience would generate a standing ovation given the universal and personal nature of “Walk It Out.”

 

One particular track that threw me off-kilter was “Hip Hop Is Not a Culture (remix)”.

The slow syncopated and off-tune guitar strums were a bit strange and arrhythmic, (Perhaps that was the intended effect?).  It is a remix after all, so remixes try to be something a little different than the original work, but generally maintain the spirit of it. Since I have not heard the original there is no benchmark for me from which to gauge.

 

The span of artful and insightful poetry and raps on The Awaken Project makes this compilation one to buy. I’d recommend this album for any fans of The Fugees, Wyclef Jean, or Toni Braxton.

 

Reviewed By Michael Morgan