Can so-called conscious or positive Hip-Hop, a subset of the genre that hasn’t enjoyed prominence since the early 90s, thrive in this era of ringtones, dance moves, thug posturing and coke rap? On a commercial level, the signs don’t show any level of true promise. This doesn’t seem to hinder the ascension and musical output of Collective Efforts, an Atlanta-based MC/vocalist trio that deliver, with fantastic results, their 4th release Time for Hope.
MCs Ben Hameen, J-Mil and Bambu de Asiatic are matched with live instrumentation that borders on the jazzier side of things – a seamless match with each MC bringing forth their respective styles under a unified front. The EP gets off to a fine start with “Crazy Things,” with the MC’s focused bars encased within a groove replete with funky horn stabs and subdued piano playing in the background. The lyrics begin in a bragging fashion but take a left turn to the positive before the track ends with the band keeping the funk steady. “Fightin Time” employs dramatic strings to great effect and the flows of the MCs are decidedly busier, but also more melodic. Background female vocalists on the track help bolster the song’s message of steady progression. “Where It Began” continues the steady trend of highlighting the talent of the rappers and their excellent harmonizing coupled with even more stellar MC abilities. The raps find the MCs in a reminiscing mood; Hip-Hop’s glory days are the focus and the song becomes a fitting tribute to a time nearly lost.
“Need Some Hope” is a fitting closer with the chorus becoming both an anthem and a plea almost at once. The band plays the groove two ways: a straight ahead jazzy affair and then rendering the track somber, but never losing the hopeful theme of the record. This all too brief release shows loads of promise for the reported full-length from Collective Efforts that, according to their label, is due this fall. If this is indeed the case, the LP cannot come soon enough. If one misses Hip-Hop with a positive message, pure music, and honest lyrics then they’ll find all the above in this amazing EP.
– D.L. Chandler