Friday, November 1, 2013

Review: BluRum13 - Inverted

New York born, Maryland raised James Sobers has already led a celebrated career. Better known to his fans as BluRum13, Sobers has dazzled crowds with his emcee skills and won peers over with his production talents, crafting two solo albums, rocking the house in over one thousand shows, and working with a plethora of artists ranging from Us3, One Self, Reverse Engineering, Bullfrog, the Russian Percussion, and many, many more. His music has been featured in Cirque du Soleil, CSI, The Family Biz (Canada), and Skins (UK) and he’s had the chance to share the stage with high-caliber artists like Maceo Parker, Herbie Hancock, Phish, KRS1, Public Enemy, and De la Soul.

Exhilarated but weary from his meteoric rise, Sobers made the decision to take some time off and recharge his creative batteries in order to gear up for the new solo album that fans had been clamoring for. That break found the artist culling through the “evolutionary philosophies in Zecharia Sitchin’s The 12th Planet and in the writings and teachings of Lloyd Pye. It’s definitely unique source material (Sitchin and Pye both advocate for the ideas of an extraterrestrial ancestor to mankind) yet it had a profound effect on the already introspective and academic lyricist.
“I learned the thing we have in common with the Creator is the ability to create. So I began looking inward and creating for myself,” he shares of the lessons learned. “Honesty is translatable. I’ve played many non-English-speaking countries where the venue is packed because the crowd gets ‘it,’ even if they don’t fully understand the language.”

That musical honesty and heady focus comes forth loud and proud on the artist’s highly anticipated Inverted, finding Sobers bringing a mélange of textures together with insightful and intelligent flows. Drawing comparisons to artists like Mos Def and Ben Harper and rightly so, Sobers puts all that studying and creative growth to good use, showing the results of his inspiration and experimentation with drum and bass and electronica.
“Kenetic” brings things to a killer start, smooth and rich keyboards setting the stage for Sobers’ tight and fluid rhymes, moving to the chorus point of “We are more than potential” while electronic fills and scratches round out the track, lending energy. “TLO” offers heavy percussion and a Maori-flavored chant, Sobers’ spitting his lyrics frantically while undergirded by a tight bass line underneath as “Strivin’” delivers a lazy, almost dreamy arrangement alongside guest vocals from Abstract Rude.

“Cereal” is another laid back track, a funky bass backbeat pressing things forward while tight live drums keep pace across as “All Day” taps into some old schools vibes, Primo the Cinematic guest starring on a track that’s mostly drums and keyboards. “Mash On” delivers some playful lyrics from Sobers’, providing some needed levity together with touches of electronica while “Vengo” finds the artist taking things cross culturally, a diverse set of sonic textures creating an almost free form jazz feel.
“Warrior Souls” is appropriately moody and darker in tone and “Universal” loosely honors the legendary talent of Michael Jackson, Sobers’ citing Jackson’s timeless elements as inspiration. Those futuristic tones give way to a dreamy set of scratches and samples on “Distortion” while “Still Living” is bright and energetic musically and lyrically close things out on a high note.

BluRum13, while drawing from some unique wells of inspiration, is a thinking man’s artist, crafting lyrics that, quite frankly, may leave a few folks scratching their heads after the first listen. Yet, while he delivers a heady set of rhymes, he also creates great canvases for his lyrics, using the whole palette of musical colors and creating arrangements that are tight and accessible yet still speak of true artistry. Inverted finds the artist turning his music on its head and listeners are all the better for it.

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