If you haven’t caught any new sounds from TruthMaze and are wondering where he’s been, don’t worry. This welcome throwback to original, old-school quality (can you say The Last Poets, Sugar Hill Gang?). Hip-Hop is still around and still in fine effect, as witnessed by a new jam, “In Motion,” thankfully sent to yours truly, courtesy of Syrka Entertainment.
To those for whom this actually doesn’t ring a bell, do yourself a favor and go do some recording shopping: The “Expansions + Contractions (Psoems 1:1)” album is a must-listen. He broke ground around these parts in 1983 as beatboxing vocalist-percussionist B-Fresh, helping originate the Twin Cities scene and went national for a while with I.R.M. Crew for which, to this day, he remains renowned.
He has always distinguished craft from recordings by rabid misogynists and Neanderthal thugs, respecting women in his lyrics and pulling the community’s coat to advocate for self-empowerment. Since expanding his artistry to join the spoken word fold, he has grown into one of the most strongly crafted voices in the genre, joining the ranks of such veritable royalty as e.g. bailey, Sha Cage and Toki Wright. It’s hard to have him play a venue without a huge, wildly enthusiastic crowd showing up to hold forth with a world of practically fevered abandon.
Check out “In Motion” with which he gives props to Afrika Bambatta, a smooth, sensually percussive flow of down-to-earth profundity in a fairly hypnotic groove. “Like hip hop’s definition/since the foundation is you/Child of creation/born of beautiful, bright souls/that knew just to breathe was a mission” and “It’s time outdated narratives/and fake beliefs, become eclipsed/so that we can behold/the brilliance and colors of our graffitied souls.” Deep as the lyrics get, the music kills. And Truth’s vocal, switching back and forth between the narration and the singing, is one for the books: subtle, sweet and sardonic, rocking wisdom like Gibraltar.
There can be arguing. Hip-Hop, Twin Cities and otherwise, truly needs for this seminal firebrand to again go national. Hopefully, it’ll happen. Meanwhile, you’d be a fool to sleep on him. This prose-poetic man of the craft is a master in full effect. TruthMaze is at the Bryant Neighborhood Festival stage, August 18th at 6:30 in the evening.