Basement to Sweatbox
It's a steaming hot August Sunday in Bushwick. In a cluttered basement on Madison Street, we find the rhythm section of the Corporation working hard on a new piece. There's no air conditioning, and tempers are starting to flare in tune with the heat. 'That's not how the riff goes,' shouts one band member. He plays a complex, intricate run that's as thick as the humidity. 'This is it.' 'No...you told me that this was it,' fires back another, playing a slightly altered version. 'Stop changing your mind.' 'No man...will you get it right?' The frustration is clearly evident. 'Look, guys,' chimes in a third. 'Both those riffs sound fine and fit the section. Will you just f***ing agree on one already?' * * * * * One would be inclined to think that the Corporation doesn't like each other very much, but that's hardly the case. The Brooklyn-based hip-metal masters - Omar, Yarehk, Jesse, Izzy, Casey, and Pete- are a tight-knit group of brothers-in-arms. While not looking very brotherly, they are one in the same when it comes to their goal: to share some ass-kicking yet thought-provoking music with the masses. Music is first and foremost, and the above instance demonstrates that the Corporation cares very deeply about getting things done right from the outset. They don't always see eye to eye when they're in composing mode; in fact, the songwriting process can get downright ugly at times. But as is always the case, the song is completed, and everyone's happy with the results. The Corporation formed in 2001 and quickly produced a demo hinting at rock-hard beats and intelligent rhymes. A steady fan base developed as people fell in love with the band's 'anywhere, anytime' attitude towards live playing. They've played the North by Northeast Festival in Toronto; they've shared stages with glam bands and singer-songwriters. In-between audience brawls, packed houses, and flying equipment, the band brings with it an unpredictability that's clearly lacking in the NYC live scene. Despite this madness, Corporation shows rarely disappoint from a musical standpoint because the band's extensive practice routine ensures a hot delivery every time. The dusk of 2003 brought the release of the Corporation's debut 'Basement to Sweatbox.' This CD proves that diversity can be a very good thing. On one side of the musical coin is a chameleon-like rhythm section that can go from delicate jazz to full-on roar at the drop of a hat. The flip side contains the brilliant, funny, venomous, and unrelenting rhymes that Omar and Yarehk spit. There are six original songs on this album (not counting the clean-edit versions). In 'Urban War,' Casey's whammy bar-inspired monologue sets the murky tone early, as the listener is quickly taken through a hell-tour of urban violence. Next is 'Peace,' which picks up right where 'Urban War' left off. This track slithers like a snake: the heaviest parts rain down when one is least prepared for them. 'Nothing' may be the closest thing to a hit single on this album, with it's funky riffs and relatively toned-down rhymes. Anyone expecting more light listening will be sorely disappointed with 'Tell Me Why,' where the album's heaviest beats meet Pink Floyd in a dancehall. 'Mind of Darkness' is straight-ahead rock: short and to the point. For dessert, the band treats you to 'Jimi,' a sweet ode to all the drugs we love. The Latin grooves fused with Hendrixian feedback squeals do indeed make you feel like you're on an acid trip. And with one last swell, the original songs-portion of the album is completed. Or is it? Listeners who hang on long enough are treated to a surprise bonus cut- the fan favorite 'EZ Skunkin'.' In an age where non-musical assets pathetically determine the advancement of new music, the Corporation will always be a healthy alternative to mass-produced cheese. The future is limitless, and as more and more listeners tire of the slim pickings in the live music scene, the most logical choice for them will be to tune into the Corporation and have their minds blown away. Copyright 2004, D. Kobayashi.