Bambu is setting the bar high with his rhyming and production choices. If you enjoy being provoked, inspired to think for yourself and witnessing the elements of Hiphop being married, this album is for you.
After listening to Bambu's "Sun of a Gun" I get the feeling his militant tendencies are not a choice, but a necessity. In a political climate where it is easy to be addled, Bambu is eloquent and up front about his ideas, beliefs and dreams. Even though he admittedly doesn't believe in heaven, I get the vibe that he is there when he’s making music. When the truth is often muddied, distant or flat out ignored, Bambu is a breath of fresh air speaking his personal truths with reverence and a damn good ear for choosing beats. The only beat I didn't enjoy is "Like Jay-Z." Not because it's wack, it's just not my style.
The production on the entire album lends itself to a sense of continuity. Although it doesn't appear to be a concept album on the surface, dig a little deeper and every song is in the order it's supposed to be. Each track lends something new and allows the following song to pick up where the one before it left off. In the beginning of the album, we hear Bambu poetically addressing the health care industry, smoking weed, and having no fixed agenda. The second track is dedicated to the many "potnas" he hangs with, smokes with and cruises with. Bambu's flow is bordering on double time throughout the track. This is great because the chorus is screwed, so there is great balance here. If the first two tracks are his topic sentence, the last track "Sun in a Million" is his thesis.
It opens with a choir singing "Whoa-ohh" for a couple bars (and throughout the track), which immediately sets the tone for the song. That part of the song really touched my soul, and made me bring my undivided attention. Before the time Bambu spits his first lines, I was ready to listen to what he had to say. It is a great way to close out an album. The beat is laid back, as is Bambu's flow. Although the cadence is more relaxed, the subject matter is anything but. He addresses gun laws, home invasions and the flaws found in the institution of marriage.
One of the great things about “Sun of a Gun” is the plethora of DJ's showcasing their skills throughout the album. 10 of the 15 tracks feature DJ's cutting and mixing on the choruses and to conclude the tracks. This is great. Hearing a DJ scratch is one of those things, if you're like me, that brings great joy. To know the elements are being married on this album is very reassuring for the direction Hiphop will grow in the future. DJ Babu of Beat Junkies and DJ Q-bert of Invisible Scratch Pickles are just two of the guest DJ's that appear.
On the Rhettmatic produced "Galvanter," Bambu spends the first verse shouting out various California Hiphop veterans (this is the lowest ranked track of the album in my iTunes because I don’t enjoy excessive name dropping). The beat is fluid and filled with suspense. Rhettmatic loops a high piano note backed by a killer bass line. The next verse is spent in part remembering how the MC got his start: in ciphers. You get the feeling that Bambu's bars pack a punch because he's spent his entire life perfecting and honing his skills. This is the best beat on the album. It's hardcore and compliments Bambu's verses perfectly.
My favorite track on the album is "Yayo." The way Bambu pronounces it is not a reference to nose candy (i think), rather "yea...yo" as a positive affirmation. There's something hypnotizing about the beat. Which could be a failure and force attention to the music instead of the lyrics for a lesser MC, however, the way Bambu spits on this track, everything comes together successfully.
If Bambu's goal with releasing "Sun of a Gun" for free was to showcase his talents and expose him to new fans, I feel like he succeeded. I vaguely knew about him from his work with Native Guns in the earlier 2000's and with Seattle MC Prometheus Brown as The Bar. But to be honest I never paid too much attention to his work. Now it's different. He proves himself to be a great story teller, poet and all around incredible MC with this release.
"Was tryin not to bring the bangin in the rap when i started, cuz in the 90's bullets flyin just to see where your heart is"
"I roll up like 'fuck these clowns,' hop out of the Chevy Soul Assassins style"
"I still will murder a break, I still will get in your face, I still be claimin LA like I just got jumped in a gang"
"So pistols been in my life, I'm sayin, longer than Dad was. My job to raise my son to grow up strong like Cali bud."
"We talkin business in America. Lobbyists control the beat and tempo of the opera"
"Medusa in my chest turning stones out my lungs" -
Brother Ali's verse on Illuminotme
George Carlin sample on Illuminotme