One of the most impressive movements in the West Coast underground is that of Orgainzed Threat, taking place under the leadership of Poetic Death. TRUE has stumbled upon what OT is up to by way of a video from Gavlyn on Youtube and, interestingly, a student of mine simultaneously introduced me to the music of one of the most exciting up and comers in LA hip hop, Phora. Phora has been releasing videos for singles from the album recently, each of which have been solid. That is exactly what this kid is, solid. The production, provided by Phora, Eskupe, Anthro Beats and more is reminiscent of the golden era, yet progressive, and the concepts and lyricism from Phora is poignant and serious while remaining accessible and relatable.
The album opens up and invites the listener right on in with a nostalgic reflection that points toward the future. Still A Kid, the title track, is an admission of where Phora is at, where he has made mistakes along the way and that he will probably continue to make mistakes as he fights his way through this maze called life. The Dragonflies escape (nod to Slug of Atmosphere-Little Man) on this track and we are left with the harsh reality that life can deal us, especially when friends leave, our coping mechanisms are inaccessible, we’re dead broke and you are left to fend for yourself. Fortunately, Phora shows himself to be Living Proof that one can overcome such dire circumstances in this manifesto, Living Proof. The fourth track makes sure that any that may position him/herself as a hater hears Phora loud and clear, “F*** You if you don’t believe in the movement!”
Phora may have reason to feel so strongly about naysayers; he may just have an underground classic here and there will certainly be naysayers. One of the elements here, above and beyond the aforementioned praise, that qualifies this album as a quality piece of art is the honesty. Phora is not just making music; he is not after fortune and fame by way of going viral and creating a hype-based following or a new, and ridiculous, dance. Phora is telling a story, his story, through an authentic and intrinsic medium. This album is so effortless it is certain to frustrate those who have to work at making music. Do not misunderstand me, not one of Poetic Death’s disciples is anything less than a hustler of Murs proportions on H.U.S.T.L.E., but it seems that the music comes as naturally to Phora as basketball seems to come to Kobe (and Kobe works damn hard). Phora bares his soul over chopped soul music samples and is able to touch listeners as the soul level, whether the listener shares a similar upbringing or not, and that is what makes an artist great – the ability to reach a larger audience by sharing a narrow message in broad strokes.
Written Words spoken to the rhythm of Moods’ drums brings the tone down a bit and sets the stage for To Each His Own wherein Phora wrestles with the idea of trust and independence and encourages all to lean on others while maintaining a steady grind toward a goal. While lulled into a sober calm, Phora implores a love interest to Stay. I do believe the track is about an actual girl, but I cannot say that I was not preoccupied with the punchline with which Phora could flip object of his desire to hip hop music, something like I Used to Love H.E.R. – he doesn’t, which is probably better. Due to love turned sour and the metaphorical scars along his spine, Phora explains that he keeps a Small Circle even though is “trying to change”. Not sure if this is an older track, but he states that he is only 17, and if that is true (or even close to true) then he his ridiculously mature as a young man and as an emcee, even if he is Still A Kid.
The rest of the album maintains a distinctly serious tone and hints at Despair while feeling hopeful that things will turn around Before It’s Over. Phora has a lot to say and even more to share in his music and it would be a shame if it were to fall on deaf ears, so please be sure to click the album cover above, download the album and share it with your friends.
Peace and Love,