It was at the end of last year that the Tragic Allies crew members Paranom & Purpose stepped outside their clique for a minute to record Life Outside The Frame. What they created was a varied selection of songs ranging from upbeat and catchy, to laidback and contemplative, making the LP unmissable for anyone searching for god-body rap with steez. As the newest recruit to the T.A roster, Paranom has proved his microphone abilities beyond a doubt, writing constantly creative bars and huge hooks with nothing but respect for the culture, lyrical depth, and skill. The tranquil jazz that Purpose has been diggin’ for suits the MCs’ chilled style well, and makes this lengthy track list seem short by keeping their songs to the point and highly musical.
Precision gives Paranom the perfect jumping off point, the hard beat leading him to write complex lines delivered with his tangibly intense passion for rhyming. The vibe relaxes slightly as they shift into Interlude To Your Mood; a healthy serving of that old boom bap goodness that carries itself at a break-neck pace. Purpose stacks percussive drum patterns into a wall of rhythm that pounds under his soul chops, leaving you no option but to move. The mellow melodies of Bee Stings (Seraphemme) settle into a smooth groove as the producer once again selects the leanest cuts to build his vocal lines; assembling one of the album’s freshest arrangements as Paranom’s takes his lyrics into territory far off that well-tread path so many write from; and find him penning couplets with a rhymes-per-line quota that seems staggering upon first listen, with catchy chorus hooks for days.
Photo by sofijaV
It doesn’t get better than tunes like Rise Above. Paranom’s multi- layered lyrics meld into the cool beat to infect your mental after Dr Khalid Muhammad’s rousing recital of Tyembe Jus’s poetry begins this album highlight; Purpose’s production once again showcasing his shine for structuring subtle tracks that are both calming and exciting simultaneously. So High‘s sailing saxes cruise over old-time vocal lines to underscore more prolific penmanship from P; covering the middle passage, material preoccupation, spirituality, and biblical and Kemetic iconography in his impressively informed verses; ‘I’m foreseeing life though literature, reading in between lines, to intervene vines, while you watchin me relieve mine, Elohim signs, solely bible Al Green shine, fourth chakra open for the messenger to bring wine’. After that involving listen, the album’s first official single Dayz Go By clears the mind with more clean sampling, serving as a perfect introduction to the pair’s soothing sound. Paranom writes his best chorus so far, then surrounds it with more intricate verses to explore, yet keeps the song an accessible piece of easy listening. The lounging jazz continues with Purpose flipping some vintage piano to create Night Gallery. It’s testament to his skill that simply by chopping these few loops he can make chord progressions and melodic arrangements this dynamic; and with the short run-time of this highly infectious track, there’s plenty of replay value. Think back to the Eastcoast classics from the golden era and you’ve no doubt got a mental list of skits that stand out; which is precisely why Nack Interlude is another nice touch that comes rooted in the culture’s history and provides an opportunity for that warm brass loop to percolate through your mind as it accompanies Nack’s off-the-cuff narrative.
As soon as the Microphone Phenomenal video had finished; I bought Life Outside The Frame without needing to hear another track. Hip Hop of this calibre being released from underground heads straight to other underground heads is what it’s all about, add DJ Grazzhoppa’s cuts to another ill Purpose beat peppered with Premo-style twinkles and it’s a wrap. Food For Thought sees Paranom’s lyrics taking on an esoteric slant once again, name-checking Quetzalcoatl and the latin name for the ‘food code’ the World Health Organization presses onto the public in this ode to self-knowledge and elevation through education. Purpose’s sample-hand reaches for the classics for the smoked-out sax on Eternal Clipse; then digs from that same box with even more ingenuity to flip a much-loved sample on Godiva. If you’ve been listening to Hip Hop for a while you know at least three artist’s footsteps Paranom had to follow in when taking on Purpose’s reinterpretation of this dope instrumental. The man smashed it like it wasn’t even a challenge, embracing the song’s calm demeanour to dedicate some time to his queen with a stream-of-consciousness flow that is as poetically pleasing as it is intelligently worded.
7 Sciences is exactly what I want to hear on repeat right now; if anything could drag me away from my current Shabazz The Disciple and Roc Marciano marathon it’s a tune like this. Every MC drops knowledge, the beat is so hard it’ll make you wana headbang like Slayer’s playing, and Paranom and Purpose both provide one of their best performances. After his interlude earlier on, Estee Nack proves he can do much more than talk over horns; in fact he encapsulates everything that makes underground Hip Hop so potent in his slick sixteen; from the Knights Templar to the Nation Of Gods and Earths, back to Genesis and forward to reparations, his verse is hands down one of the best I’ve heard this year. On Be A King, P’s words reach out to ‘single mothers up against the odds’ and ‘all the sons raised by invisible gods’ over another beautifully arranged zoner from Purpose. Dreams contains some serious jewels lyrically, Paranom’s prose flows through time to touch on Leonardo of Pisa’s mathematics of nature, the sixth king of Babylon, awakening the pineal gland and digging through ‘lie-buries’ for truth, with wordplay so dense it’ll take time to fully catch every line. The production shifts to a more sentimental place to reflect the mental regressions Paranom recites on I Remember. It’s not the album’s strongest track, but still holds up well before the epic overtones on Passion Of The Vice reignite the excitement once again. No Longer Laughin’ leaves on a sombre note, sliding back into the sound the pair have perfected throughout the album to finish strong. Both men behind this LP deserve the utmost respect, not only for making an album true to rap’s roots; but for the good feeling the music brings, the love that went into the project, and Paranom’s message. In this age of water fluoridation and mass mental passivity, finding an album filled with positive, responsible lyrics is always a blessing; clearly Paranom takes his role as a poor righteous teacher seriously, and if he continues to impart knowledge in every line as he has on Life Outside The Frame, his audience is sure to expand at the same rate as his overstanding.
Much love to sofijaV.com.