Collard Greens & Gunpowda
Many dog owners and trainers feed their pets an admixture of leftover food from the dinner table and gunpowder. It is said that gunpowder causes a canine to be more aggressive, erratic. Angry. In essence, the food portion of this strange diet sustains the dog's growth while the gunpowder alters it's temperament and corrodes it's emotional stability. The combination simultaneously nurtures and destroys the animal. Dogs reared in this manner are most often killed in dog fights, die from health complications, or are put to sleep.... Sorepo Records proudly announces the release of Blac Phoak's groundbreaking new album, the aptly titled Collard Greens and Gunpowda. After selling over 9,000 hand-to-hand units of their underground album, The Movement, the eight member group, Yum Yum, Donavelli, Spody, Ni'key Baby, Vorhese, DK, Emlo, and Chozen, are back with their first commercial release. The new project flows as life does itself highlighting and poetically interpreting all of the fundamental human emotions including distress, anger, pain, depression, happiness, fear, love, and sensuality. The album's title relates to the opposing spiritual, emotional, and socio-psychological forces shaping the lives and perspectives of the group members. The group finds it's roots in the historic city of Selma at the heart of Alabama's Black Belt region. The Black Belt, also referred to as the Bible Belt, is one of the most economically deprived regions in the nation, prompting comparisons to third world countries. Moreover, the Bible Belt, despite it's religious intensity, is overwhelmed by crime, violence, and failing educational institutions. It is a world were black mothers are forced to raise their children to survive instead of to live. It is this incongruous background that lays the foundation for the group's unique perspective: While Selma's civil rights legacy, black power ethos, and concentrated spirituality afforded the group members their consciousness, character, and faith, the city's joblessness and hopelessness are partly responsible for the group's anger, emotional instability as well as for the more destructive aspects of their personalities. Collard Greens and Gunpowda is concept driven from beginning to end. Following closely to the theme of the album, most of the songs reflect the contradictory nature of the black experience. However, despite the intensity and scope of the album, it still maintains a unique commercial appeal. One of the group's most defining songs, "First Thang Monday Mornin' (Remix)" is an unusually self-aware song about procrastination, failed self-change, and regret. The refrain reads in part, "First thang Monday mornin', I'm getting off this nicotine, puttin' down this alcohol and slacking off these collar' greens, but Monday neva comes." Also featured on Collard Greens is the subversive "Start a Riot," a street anthem destined to be a coast to coast club banger. This song, in particular, is a classic example of the Blac Phoak formula... "Give your audience what they need to hear, flipped in a way they want to hear it". Not overlooking the lighthearted side of life, Collard Greens & Gunpowda includes the tongue in cheek "Southern Lovers". One of the albums more humorous and whimsical tracks, it is seemingly a song about "gimme guls" (the southern version of gold diggers), but is more a play on materialism. The song finds the artists instructing us on how to get the gold diggers without giving the gold. In the process, they almost make it cool to be broke: "Southern lovers ain't no Casanovas ridin' 'round in no Range Rovers, girl we drive in Chevy Novas hemmin' you up on yo' mama's sofa." All in all, the masterfully assembled Collard Greens and Gunpowda is a breath of fresh air in the some times suffocating world of Hip-Hop music. The album, boldly combining social commentary, emotional disclosure and commercial appeal, can only be described as Collard Greens and Gunpowda. The group members with their varied lifestyles, distinct personalities and diverse perspectives can only be described as Blac Phoak. A movement indeed. Chozen "Man this is fo'real to me. I mean the way I connect with it is almost spiritual. I actually believe, I was born to be an MC. That's why they call me 'Chozen'....and when I hit that stage man, I go into a whole 'nother zone. But on another level, I also believe that what I do can affect the world, and I stand by my beliefs because I was taught that a man is nothing without his integrity. I was also raised to speak my mind, so of course this music is just natural to me. I done seen so much and been through so much...I just want to bring my point of view and my experiences to our music and give something to the world that has as much grit, intensity, passion and significance as this here ditch we represent." Yum Yum "There ain't no way to really describe me or my style. It's slaughta. I been all over and ran with all types of cats, from arm robbers to activist, dope dealers to doctors, hustlers to lawyers. So I picked up a little of this, a little of that from everybody along the way. I ain't no psychologist or nothing, but you could say that that's what shaped the attitude I approach life with. I don't want no stress. I didn't even want to be no rapper. I wasn't one of those cats walking around with a backpack and a notebook all of the time, but when we created Sorepo and set up the studio I would be down there messing around with the group and they started telling me that I had a raw style. They damn near made me get on a song. Up until then, I was doing it as a joke. I still just rap when I feel like it. But I guess I'll keep doing it. Ain't no telling." Nikki Donavelli "My life is crazy because I was like raised in two different places with two different realities. My people back in Ohio was heavy in the dope game-I ain't gone lie I got caught up...did almost a year--but my mom always made me aware of the history of our folk. And then living in Selma just reinforced all of the stuff I had learned. The level of consciousness I put into my songs is just a reflection of the crazy way I was brought up. You know, Collard Greens and Gunpowda. The content of my lyrics is a lot of times inspired by folk like W.E.B. Dubois and Malcolm X, but the spirit of my rhymes have the influence of cats like Tupac Shakur, the Last Poets and Donald Goines. I feel like it's on me to represent them all." D.K. "Man, I have 5 brothers & sisters and I grew up in a home that sometimes had up to 19 other people in it--Foreal. My family was real active in the community, so I was raised on the struggle. At the same time, growing up around all them people, you got to create your own space just to keep your sanity. Sometimes you had to fight just to eat. Man, that's the story of my life. I been at it with someone or something every since I was peeing in the bed. It's been a constant war with myself, always challenging myself, always trying to get better. It really just comes down to survival. You know a lot of people call me hard-headed, but sometimes I feel like it's my will that gets me by. I'm a born competiter. Now, I almost feel like I am competing with myself. It's like 'can I make a hotter beat?' or 'can I write some more fire lyrics?' I feel like I am about to loose it sometimes because I know they ain't ready for us and I'm ready for them to know they ain't." Spody "Man I been hustlin' all my life. And it seem like I been rappin' as long as I been hustlin, so I guess you can say I'm a veteran of both worlds. I bring to hip hop, what I got from the streets. That type of Wisdom and Knowledge that can't be learned in 4th period history class. I know I got something to get and give from this. Ain't no free lunch in life, and ain't nobody gone give you sh-t. You got to earn it or take it. And after watching so many of my homeboys getting locked up and buried, I knew there wasn't nothing left for me on the streets. What I'm doing now represents the future for me. The past ain't an option." Vorhese "Man when my mom died it f-cked me up. I was 'bout to get a baseball scholarship to a major college...and boom. You wake up, and your mama gone. I took it right to the streets. If it wasn't for the Lord I'd be sitting out 15 to 20 right now-or in a box. I always moved around a lot, Tennessee, Alabama, Georgia, back to Alabama, and I tried a little of everything from hustling to college....I ain't gone lie, I was lost and I needed something to help get my mind right. When we founded Sorepo I knew, I found the something I needed. Don't get me wrong, it's still a struggle but I put my heart into everything I do and pray that the Lord really does help those who help themselves. I know from personal experience, it ain't fun being broke, depressed, and hungry. So this is what I'm doing about it. Not just for me, but for all my folk." Emlo aka Porno "Man, I don't know what to tell you." Life been hard for all of us. Most of us lost our folk growing up, didn't know where our next meal was coming from....just out there. I think this music is therapy for all of us. It helps us to not do the things we are used to doing to get by. I know you feel me. But me personally, I always been into the women. I'm an addict. I kind of bring the sexuality to Blac Phoak. I don't do it on purpose, but if you listen to my verses you bound to find something pornified in there. But that's how I approach my music and my flow. I like to make love to the beat."