Oblique Brown

For the past two weeks, since I picked it up at Artwallah, I have been listening to Chee Malabar’s new solo effort on my .mp3 player. It went on sale on-line today. Malabar is one half of the duo known as the Himalayan Project. He actually debuted the title track “Oblique Brown” at the SAAN conference to an audience that was floored by the raw (and ultimately sad) story. Here is a snippet from the title track about an incident that happened to Malabar in New York City:


p>It was the, moment I feared, the corner was clear,
or so I thought then a fucking cop appeared,
in my rearview, red-blue berries was flashing,
flagged me to the side of the road, started askin’
for “License, Registration”, stayed silent and patient,
waitin…as the cop ran my plates,
he came back moments later, scanning my face,
disappointed, “Ain’t no warrants in my name,
and this ride’s clean man, I got it in my mama’s name,
“What I do?”, “You ran a red, illegal U, that’s two tickets!”
“Cool, pass em over, i’d love to stay and kick it,
but I’ll catch you in court, you know I’ma fight it!”
“What! Hold up Osama, don’t be so near-sighted!”
Before I snatched the ticket, the cop got excited,
clutched his glock and screamed, “Don’t even budge bitch!”
Thought he’d call Tom Ridge to tell him “flip the color switch”
A white boy rocks a beard, he’s consided rugged,
and If I sport one, I’m a threat to the public!…


p>[Listen to Oblique Brown on Myspace]



The rest of the album is a good mix between introspection and activist thought. The production value is first rate but even more importantly the lyrics are all really intelligent and message oriented. As is probably evident from my past postings, I’m no good at writing reviews. I just know what I like so you can stop reading this post and start listening to judge for yourself if you wish. The other tracks I was especially digging were “Snapshots” and “What Remains.” You can purchase Oblique Brown here.

“It is what it is, kiss your wifey and kids,
and if they ask you better tell ‘em ,you might come back a felon,
Oblique Brown, Oblique-Oblique-Oblique Brown,
deep down, beat down by the system.”

See related posts: Monsters of rock, Desh-hop, Scenes from Artwallah, I used to love HER, Documentary on desis in hip-hop

3 thoughts on “Oblique Brown

  1. Thanks Abhi. I liked them at Artwallah, and I’m going to pick up their CD at your recommendation. I wish there were more South Asian rappers that made conscious hip hop. Apart from the really cool stuff some London and New York desis are doing (mostly in electronica genres) we have too many mediocre DJs (read: engineering majors who need to blow off steam). We also have too many enterprising rappers from gated communities in Orange County whose misogyny is so stereotypical and overt it’s not even worth dignifying with analysis, and whose lack of rhythm is embarassingly apparent as soon as you take the bhangra instrumental off. Good hip hop always goes back to its roots: empowerment of the urban underclass. Maybe more South Asians need to identify with the urban underclass to make better hip hop? I dunno.

  2. Maybe more South Asians need to identify with the urban underclass to make better hip hop? I dunno.

    Maybe they just need to identify with them selves. Rappers trying to identify with something they are’nt is never pretty. Vanilla Ice anyone? I got hooked on HP after someone on SM posted about them. Will definately get this album.

  3. himalayan project is definitely good. caught them live once in LA.

    Good hip hop always goes back to its roots: empowerment of the urban underclass.

    while i think this is true of how hip hop started, it can’t be the only lens through which we look at the genre anymore. too many people making great music that doesn’t stem from their “urban underclass” upbringing. or maybe that’s just me being optimistic that we can get great hip hop through other avenues. i will say though, that the “empowerment of the urban underclass” is great fodder for the creation of great music.

    and though i’d tend to agree with that, i’ve recently paid more attention to the “storytelling” abilities of some MCs and that in and of itself is a gift. sometimes you don’t need to have to “live” it to be able to paint a good picture of it lyrically a la a href =”http://www.ballerstatus.net/news/read/id/76159081/”>this murs interview.

    “‘Pusherman’ is not Curtis Mayfield’s story, but he made it vivid,” said Murs. “This album is more bluesy, more country and western — not in sound, but in narrative. Country and western people tell you about their day, but with a twist. Johnny Cash is the perfect example: ‘Folsom Prison Blues’ is about being in jail for murder, but he never killed anybody; still, he makes you believe it. I can do that, because I’ve been in those situations.”