Music is in a perilously peculiar place these days. Artists, be they indie or major, continue to wade their way through a new music economy that forces them to create mish mashed collages of projects that don’t allow them to stick to merely one genre. But this also creates tons of opportunities to collaborate, falter, fail and start all over again in the name of creativity.
Maryland MC, songwriter and recording artist Ebonee Said is no stranger to this form of experimentation. And with her latest project, the recently released Rebirth of Queen, she stretches the boundaries of what Hip Hop music can be considered, while remaining steeped deeply in some of the genres’ most vital elements: intensely focused lyricism, fresh collaborations and experimental, inventive sampling.
Reminiscent of and harking back to the glory days in the early and mid-nineties of the Native Tongues and The Fugees, Ebonee along with a few of her comrades from music collective The Clergy creates a body of work that is equal parts spoken word, neo-soul, call-and response R&B, East Coast Hip Hop and World Music/African-inspired rhythms.
“Intellect Only Part 3” is a Fela Kuti-sampled tour-de-force where Ebonee trades lyrical head jabs with track producer Oobergeek, while “Figures”, a shorter than expected track laced with stanzas of “Get Up Stand Up” –ish anger and thoughtful political commentary, is still and inspired piece of work. The power of the opening drums paired with Ebonee’s melodic exercises on “Medicine Man” reveals a song that’s pretty cutting edge, and is one of the most experimentally successful on the entire album. And “Flip The Third”, where Ebonee rides the organically sampled the live drums with strong, thought-provoking wordplay, is a strong contender for the albums best track.
Rebirth of Queen is an album that finds its greatest success by riding a steady wave of stripped-down, bare bones yet avant-garde sampling, constant collaboration and just taking chances. And at the center of it all, Ebonee uses herself as her own muse, relying on her talent in several different areas, not just as an emcee. It’s a relevant indie release that’s worth a long, hard listen, and it proves that Ebonee is an artist that’s more than capable of creating material that can withstand the current environment of genre-bending and continually blurring musical lines.