Poet = Immortal Technique + Killer Mike + Atmosphere
Not long ago, I covered the DJ instructors of Bboy Federation, who are bringing back the roots of hip-hop and traditional scratching to Salt Lake City. Much like how these kinds of DJs teach through musical techniques, Utah rapper Poet is vying to teach a whole different message through his music. Bearing the name Radical Thought, I would say that this album is more “informed” than radical, especially in today’s political climate. Nonetheless, Poet takes pride in discussing the topics he feels strongly about, even if they may not align with those of the community around him.
This album thoroughly takes on the topics of refugees, immigration, gun control and the importance of hip-hop. Poet even delivers a lecture in a style similar to a spoken-word recitation in the track “22nd Century Patriot.” The track defines what a patriot is while discussing the matter of church and state. Religion is a topic that hits close to Poet’s personal life, since he doesn’t conform to the popular local religion. This track starts beautifully with a George Carlin quote that dissects the phrase “God Bless America.”
For me, though, the album shines when Poet takes a step back from its major themes and tells of his come up in “I’m So Proud.” The track takes a step back and allows Poet to be grateful in his work and take pride in the way those around him give him positive reinforcement in his music and messages. The track also features an amazing sample of The Impressions’ “I’m So Proud,” creating an atmosphere that Poet is trying to express the feeling of. Radical Thought is not only technically sound with its more traditional-sounding beats and all-around delivery, but is also ambitious—and some may even say brave—in the passionate and strong views that Poet delivers through his lyrics. No matter where you may stand, Radical Thought is an album that should be on everyone’s radar, not only to hear well-educated lyrics but also to hear a genuinely well-put-together collection of music. –Connor Brady