{mosimage}In Fayetteville, most of us, while making a trip to the mall, the grocery store or even the gas pump, have seen some eager artist or artists trying to sell their CD. Many of us have even been approached with the proposal, “Yo, check out my CD, it’s hot, it’s only such and such dollars.”

Oftentimes, it’s not that you don’t want to support the artist, but it’s just that you really don’t know what you’re getting yourself into when buying, because many times you don’t know anything about the artist.

No one wants to waste their money on a bad CD from MC I Have a Dream any more than they want to waste it on a new bad CD from Snoop Dogg. I have come to the conclusion that while listening to commercial music is always worthwhile and rewarding, at times, the independent scene is where it’s really at.

I will still cover mainstream music, but also make more of an effort to cover independent rap through reviews and interviews. Of course, a written article can only do so much, because your ears will be the final judge if the music is hot or not. However, this column will form the “bridge between” your ears and that unknown artist in the street.

With that being said, here is my first local hip-hop artist review featuring Kenansville’s own Felony Knowledge. His gift to the streets is titled, Real Life is Stranger then Fiction. First , Felony Knowledge (or FK for short) is a conscious rapper with somewhat of an edge. Vocally, his tone is deep and at times preachy, but not in a way that was boring like your high school chemistry teacher. Lyrically, his content resembles the subject matter of ╩Native Tongues artists De La Soul, Mos Def and Jungle Brothers. 

FK focuses on his love for the music, the negative aspects of the street and hip hop, and elevating your thinking. No talk of big rims, shiny chains or chasing skirts on this one. Speaking of Native Tongues influence, FK’s delivery sounds a bit like Talib Kweli. Both tend to spit a rush of hurried lyrics bar for bar, which at its best keeps you engaged and gives energy to the tracks without sounding monotone, but at its worst, is too hurried and sounds like jumbled up rhymes in a line. 

The first track is Declaration Intro, where FK lets off some steam about ignorant rappers and everything that is bad in the game that he is not. The beat will have your head nodding, and the repetition of drums at the end of FK’s bars fit his voice like a glove. One of the songs that shows FK at his best is the thought provoking and searing Stand Behind Me, where he drops lines like: “Bad boys never talk we still move in silence/success is the best revenge that’s resort come to violence/ you get rained on if you’re not under the umbrella/ I make moves like a king while most possess the four devils/ greed, hate, jealousy and envy╔ .”

The weaknesses of Felony’s album revolve around his flow being too energetic and packed with words and meaning. He seems to put as many words into each bar as possible and it doesn’t ride the beat as well as it could. “Doin’ His Job” is a stellar track with a hypnotic neck-snapping beat by Cardiair Geezus, and verse-for-verse FK does his thing, but the words to the hooks sound rushed together. If Felony’s words were food for thought, sometimes his wise words would come off as too-big spoonfuls. His words come off much better when he takes his time on tracks such as I Wanna Talk To You, which features a laid back melodic beat and some a capella breaks where Felony does his thing and gives you time to listen.

Overall, Real Life is a worthy buy, and if you catch Felony out in the streets pushing his disc or at a show performing, pick it up and give him a listen. What Felony represents is a voice of the hip hop generation that actually has something to say rather than obsessing over the usual cars, drugs and money you often hear on the radio. 

Check Felony out at www.myspace.com/FK72884.

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