Geo & Bambu vs. Geo & Sabzi: The Walk Into a Bar vs. Cinemetropolis Debate

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Geo & Bambu vs. Geo & Sabzi: The Walk Into a Bar vs. Cinemetropolis Debate

  • Geo & Bambu vs. Geo & Sabzi: The Walk Into a Bar vs. Cinemetropolis Debate

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    Since Walk Into a Bar, the joint venture of Prometheus Brown (aka Geologic of the Blue Scholars) and Los Angeles MC Bambu, has found a surprise home on my most-played list since being released on Tuesday, I've decided to take a look back at Blue Scholars' third album Cinemetropolis, now just over three weeks old, and try to figure out why, given the common elements, I've given it the complete opposite treatment.

    To begin, the few highlights on Cinemetropolis are hits mainly because Sabzi has either built some progressive boom-bap ("Seijun Suzuki"), which has in turn urged Geologic to conjure some past fire, or stumbled into an entirely new, prettier space ("Anna Karina") that Geo has discovered he can vibe in. The only songs that remind of Bayani-era Scholars are the echo-ey "George Jackson" and the dripping sentimental "Yuri Kockiyama," the latter being the standout of the two.

    Other tracks, though, demonstrate a more pronounced dissonance, where Geo's rhymes fail to gain purchase on Sabzi's moving-target production. It's not that Sabzi's production has left Geo behind entirely, but more that the two seem to want to wander off in their own directions after so many years, and are still trying to find middle ground in the studio. "Slick Watts," for example, finds Sabzi carving some simple yet effective synthesizer lines into a hard-bouncing party rhythm, yet Geo's disposable neighborhood-and-hometown-athlete shout-outs add little to the mix. The opening and closing "Cinemetropolis" and "Fin" sound like dreamy video-game instrumentals (maybe Sonic the Hedgehog and Donkey Kong respectively) covered with light social commentary and film metaphor.

    Walk Into a Bar, on the other hand, contains a substantial mix of more traditional, sample-based production from a host of sources, and allows the two lyricists to trade verses in a more comfortable arena. Between the two releases, Geologic simply sounds more at home when surrounded by more vintage-sounding drums, horns, strings, and the likes--not to mention a capable, like-minded MC in Bambu--than he does over Sabzi's new, however inventive, style of production.

    Blue Scholars remain the product of two talented artists, they just haven't meshed recently as they have in the past. But as Geo lets on during the Cinemetropolis track "Lalo Shifrin," he's not afraid to revisit past styles and potentially end up ahead of the game: "I be the first to reverse the fashion, 'cause a trend won't last but it might come back."

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