The high-powered alternative hip-hop group Ting Tryer–comprising rapper E-Dot, singer Tia Thomas and producers Michael Bain and Darp–strive to be the modern Arrested Development, N.W.A., and Public Enemy in one. Their well-regarded new effort Take Me To Your Leader weaves political agenda with throwback 90s hip-hop vintage, and galvanizing lyrical acrobatics that leaves listeners’ conscious in a state of frenzy.
Animated delivery in flow and different rhyme schemes provided by E-Dot immediately draw your attention. “Let’s Bunn,” for instance, flamboyantly details the drug infestation in impoverished communities while E personifies himself as the paranoid, trigger-happy .38, lyrically targeting anyone breathing. The there’s the “New Negro.”
The “New Negro” falls victim to the firearm and becomes the laughing stock of American interplay of gentrification and minstrelsy, largely through media and entertainment. The “New Negro” is being sold a falsity; buying into a broken American dream. The song’s female voice sings awareness of a derelict and misguided generation where we, cast as leading prizefighters, have the obligation to champion positivity and righteousness. “Pretty For A Dark Girl” is Ting Tryer at their most controversial. The song mimics a young Caucasian male with perverse and stereotypical views about the portrayal of African American women. Though degrading, it pokes fun at the ignorance displayed while implicitly paying homage to the “Phenomenal Woman” of Maya Angelou.
The highlight of TMTYL is the humorous but earnest “Cabfare,” an anthem for anyone who’s ever been denied transportation by a taxi driver. “If I Could I Would” is a tune people in relationships can relate to, as love can be pure bliss one minute and the next transformed into the most extreme pain. The angelic crooning of Thomas and E-Dot’s bars together envision the possibility for love to be rekindled.
The poetry in “Good Tings” conveys the overall message of the entire album this way:
“I’m battling against the odds, against the grain, against the shade…I’m all cried out counting nickels and dimes/ False hope with a beautiful mind…Music, our relationship’s so damaged/ All I really do is anguish/ It’s like I don’t understand the language/ I’m ready to quit ‘cause you don’t listen to shit unless her booty shaking all up in the camera/ It’s like positive is lesser.”
With this said, Take Me To Your Leader leaves little room for insolence and much legroom for artistic expression and protestation. In fact, it just might ber the stimulus package needed to reanimate a decomposing music industry.
-Hector De La Rosa