Adventures In Counter Culture, Blueprint, 2011
A lot of young people from don't know much about Midwest hip hop. We all know that hip hop didn't start in the Midwest, but there is no denying the talent from Chicago, Detroit, Minneapolis and Cleavland. A short list of Midwest hip hop artists include Common, Kanye West, Eminem, Elzhi, Lupe Fiasco, Slug, Black Milk, Royce Da 5'9, Atmosphere, Brother Ali, The Cool Kids, Kid Cudi and Blueprint. I didn't include St. Louis for the following reasons. In the 90's, Nelly and Chingy came out of St. Louis and they put that city on the map. I haven't heard of anyone else from there since, so if someone knows of one, please comment at the end of this blog entry. My point in saying this that I don't consider St. Louis part of the Midwest because the southern in their accent is too strong. I'm not saying there is anything wrong with having a southern accent, it's just that both the lifestyle and accent are very different the cities in the Midwest. There are more artists from the Midwest but this is an article about Blueprint.
Now that's out of the way, Blueprint is from Cleavland, Ohio. One thing about Midwest underground hip hop is that the die hard fans don't listen to hip hop from other cities very often because they're wrapped up in their local scene. There are people that will drift to one of the coasts, but they usually won't swing back to the other. I didn't learn about Blueprint until recently (probably because there is no real hip hop media in the Midwest pre-internet). And the hip hop media in the Midwest are all are trying to be like the mainstream anyway. Even after the internet revolutionized hip hop, the national/international blogs like 2dopeboyz.com, datpiff.com and onsmash.com had already established all of these areas at the same time for a new generation. So now that the doors are open, there will be a wide variety of artists coming out of the Midwest. Like Blueprint, many of these new artists will have been making creative music for years too.
Blueprint is an artist whose musical production reminds me of El-P, Dangermouse or Sa-ra and his lyrics fit into the Rhimesayers envelope, but are not bound by the label creatively. I say this because there is a melodic vocal quality many Rhymesayers artists experiment with. Blueprint is articulate, serious, intelligent, contemplative, deliberate, slightly minimal and soulful. A lot of artists experiment with the singing/rapping combination, but Blueprint does it better than most and he does it without Autotune. Prevalent instruments include keys, drums, drum machines, electric and bass guitars. Live instrumentation mixed with sampling that will draw comparisons to electronica. Blueprint produces his own tracks and he experiments with a digital/analog (Skyzoo) sound that Ski Beatz is pumping out of NYC and Black Milk is experimenting with in Detroit. To make it easy, I will just call it hip hop that you need to see in person and call it a day.
Welcome Home is an uplifting song that came as a surprise to me. It is an example of a track that catches you off guard, but doesn't disappoint. There are times when this album reminds me of John Forte's sophomore album, I, John. Tough to describe with words, but it's best just to listen to it. With everyone worried about the music industry in 2011, I'm waiting for fans and promoters alike to realize that the future of music and hip hop is in live performances. I'm sure seeing Blueprint perform this album will be a live music experience to remember. Experiencing music live is enough reason to find out what shows are in your town, but it also motivates you to distinguish the good from the bad.
To hear more from Blueprint, follow the links below and go pick up a copy of Adventures In Counter Culture. Blueprint is the antithesis to the stereotype of hip hop and rap. The fact that artists like Blueprint exist is why I titled this entry Fuck Ashley Judd! Listen to Blueprint! When you stereotype a culture, you not only make yourself look ignorant, you blatantly show how you are willing to make broad brush strokes with a medium you know nothing about. Knowledge is power and hip hop fans are as responsible for the poor perception of hip hop in the media as the ley people that know nothing about the culture or art form. Think before you speak!
Go Hard or Go Home, Automatic, Keep Bouncing, Wanna Be Like You, My Culture, So Alive, Stole Our Yesterday, Radio-inactive, Welcome Home, Fly Away and The Clouds, Rise & Fall