Hip hop is probably best known and categorized by strong rhythmic beats and revolutionary messages, and Flipsyde offers plenty of both in their recent release We The People. Members Piper, Steve Knight, Dave Lopez, and D-Sharp all have vast and unique backgrounds, but all had a common theme running through their previous works – political commentary. Together they have produced a CD that is rich with themes, not of unrest, but a plea to come together.
Piper, the MC and vocalist of the group, draws on his multi-cultural background and only intermittently present father as inspiration for his profound and edgy rhymes. His says about their style, “Our music is like water, it has no form but can cover you . . . or morph into anything.” This statement is fairly accurate. Though it all falls under the umbrella of hip-hop each track is distinctive and complex. Some tracks even a blend of styles, but more on that later.
Steve Knight is also a vocalist for the group and plays acoustic guitar. He met Piper when they were working on separate individual projects for the same label. It was when these two went to Oakland’s Soundwave Rehearsal Studios that they were introduced to Dave Lopez, who now plays both electric and Acoustic guitar in the group.
Knight describes the group’s lyrics as a powerful catalyst for change,
It doesn’t matter where you come from, how rich or poor you are or what your religion is. You can break down the walls and communicate. You can gain strength from these things and come together.
The first thing that struck me as different about Flipsyde and their CD is just how powerful and rich their beats were. As I said, a powerful rhythm is classic and conventional of hip hop, but there is nothing stereotypical or formulaic about what’s contained herein. The beats infuse their way into body and make moving with the music nearly impossible.
The messages and lyrical rhymes also stand out. Though in theory, they are also formula hip-hop, Flipsyde go above and beyond the typical. The track “No More” is an example of this. Instead of being simple rhymes, it is a lyrical melody. The verses sing of all that is wrong: poverty, gang-mentality, and misguided political intentions as well as the frustration of the effects on today’s society. I suppose at first glance this would seem typical as well, but you have to hear the clip to understand just how atypical it is.
“Skipping Stones” is another example of just how unique this CD is to the genre. The opening notes are warm and uplifting, with Latin influences, it has a flavorful and elevating feeling, even before the lyrics start. Even though they are not as inspiring as the music, it makes the song all the more powerful. It is a technique I absolutely adore of mixing completely opposite moods, there is no better way to hammer a point home, and these guys do it effortlessly on this song.
“Happy Birthday” is another song that, like “Skipping Stones,” blends emotional opposites. The result is a powerful, touching, and poignant piece about a birthday (literally birth day) that would never be. Though the melodic lyrics are heartbreaking, the tune is that of a joyous wish.
I must admit I went into We The People with a negative mind-set, having heard both Flipsyde’s and their individual member’s work on The Pen and The Sword – Revolution Radio Mixed by DJ D Sharp. Unlike We the People, this CD is filled with a more traditional militant feel, and the melodies are sharply, sorely missing. So it was quite a pleasant surprise to hear such growth and expansion in this CD.
The inimitable blend of hip-hop rhymes, told with a strong and surprisingly eloquent lyric which are backed with pop and soft rock melodies and set to traditional but catchy body moving tempos will be enjoyed by those who enjoy hip-hop but can appreciate music with a message.