Friday, February 18, 2011

Big Rube Impression

Part poet, part preacher. A true sage, an eloquent dropper of words of wisdom which attempt to find a level of the highest common denominator, rather than dumbing it down like a lot of new elementary hip-hop. Big Rube, Dungeon Family member, is a unique artist. A modern day street philosopher, Big Rube’s wordplay and messages ring both hard and true. Wherever his verses are found, they manage to both enlighten and challenge, presenting in a maze words something for all of us to take home and think about.

Many Outkast jams are celebrations of experimentation-odes to musical and vocal creativity. Happy to bring their friends along, their guests seemed to always rise to the occasion, bringing the best in whatever they did. Big Rube was no exception. Commanding undivided attention with his baritone voice, Rube’s spoken word ruminations on two Outkast tracks are some of my favorite moments in hip-hop. Presented with a stage just for himself, Big Rube waxes wise wherever he lays his words, each time taking us along for an epic journey.

13th Floor/Growing Old

Taking the reins of the song only after a few seconds, Rube combines his trademarks of introspection, religious imagery, and a relentless search for self-improvement. Over relaxing piano chords, Rube’s voice sounds tremendous as he takes us through a social critique on top of a platform formed by textbook in rhyming and alliteration. Rube sets the town for a song that has one eye looking back at the past, morphing into a preacher, urging his listeners to become better tomorrow than they were yesterday.



This time as the bookend to the almost nine-minute classic Outkast cut, Big Rube’s verse is a stream of consciousness take on everything from mortality to cowards. In cryptic language that begs endnotes, Rube’s unique lyrical juggling seems both effortless and methodical. Lines like “you can’t imagine it/unless you looking at the canvas of life/and not through the peephole of mortality” seem ripe for all sorts of interpretation, while others like “You got more juice than Zeus/slangin lightning trying to frighten/plains dwellers, of the Serengeti” are sonical showoffs, with Rube guiding you along the way. Like an abstract painting, what you see in this verse is a reflection of who you are. But like a good painting, it making you think is a victory in and of itself.


Alphabet Acrobat

With his spoken word verses probably the closest thing in hip-hop to poetry, his appearance on the great Def Poetry Jam series is not surprising. Big Rube adopts an A-Z structure to his poem, dropping a few bars for each letter in order. Although this structure has been used before, it never seems forced, and the structure doesn’t ever overwhelm his words but rather seems to guide his thoughts, providing an outlet to his creativity. Rube finds time to drop gems as always (two favorites are “Cuz I grip a Grey matter glock” and “I’m young yet I yearn for the year when the youth learn”) and wears his larger than life voice naturally on his huge frame.

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