By Aleia Gooding
Gift of Gab, the lyrical Hercules drops his super intelligent EP: Rejoice! Rappers are Rapping Again. The EP made me think of the age-old discussion of arrogance vs. confidence. Hip-hop as a whole has a natural aggressiveness to it, even if at times subtle, and that tone can sometimes mistakenly be seen as a rapper’s need to seek, kill and destroy any “opponent” who dares to believe their skill is even comparable. In other words, aggression often serves as a catalyst for innate competition amongst fellow rappers. Gift of Gab; however, has an aggression on this EP that goes just hard enough to mark his territory but without the need to prove his lyrical ability, only to notify you that even after all these years, it hasn’t gone anywhere.
With that being said, Gift of Gab is not only one-half of the Bay Area lyrical duo Blackalicious, he is also a well-established artist with over 20 years of discography and game-changing rhyme play under his belt. This EP showcased that very sentiment and played like a melodic portfolio.
The album starts out with “Bowling Pins,” which sets us up (pun totally intended) for a word-play extravaganza packed with quick hits and sharp turns through every verse. Gift of Gab lets you know that his style is to line ‘em up and knock ‘em down. Line after line of perfectly placed words ride over the beat as he gently reassures you that this is no hobby. This is his niche, so step back and let a pro operate these controls. Abominable has a catchy rock beat that bounces like a yellow, candy paint-splashed hydraulic low rider. You can bounce like a grownup and still be schooled like an adolescent as Gab lets you know he’s not here to play. He wastes no time tearing through every word like a ninja with a shredding complex. You must listen closely to every word, so as not miss any clever moments or you’re certain to miss something. In fact, I played this album 5 times front to back just to make sure I was grasping at least 60% before I could even begin this review. No, really.
Hip-hop is much like a toe-to-toe, ego-filled sport. What I like most is that Gab is a well-skilled player-chess, not checkers. Gabman gifts us the 1966 version of The Batman Theme Song, which actually seems appropriate for the entire EP, and not in the typical “I’m here to save hip-hop” fashion. Instead, it’s the “I’m way too cool to notice you in the corner there because I’m too busy being awesome right here. Oh, and I am Batman, er- Gabman.” “Freedom Form” features AFRO and R.A. The Rugged Man and feels like a just-for-fun collaboration amongst this trio of gifted emcees. “Aspire and The Gentrification Song” (both originals & remixes collectively) are the conscious tracks of the EP both highlighting racial inequality and the plight of the oh-so-precious inner city.
This EP didn’t come off as an intro to an incredible album. It felt more like target practice but one thing is for certain. Timothy “Gift of Gab” Parker hasn’t left the building. He’s very much in attendance and still very much a lyrical threat.