Concrete Solutions

Concrete Project will perform at Rock the Boat on Friday

The Ocean Beach rock/rap band the Concrete Project is back this month with a new project, "The Rise of Bishop."

A bit of a concept album, it refers to the many "Bishop"-related themes the band members have encountered. Some are socioeconomic, as the bishop on a chess board represents the lower middle class. Others are personal, as in the first name of the keyboardist's first son. Stil others are random: Guitarist Shaun Bro used to live on the cross street of Bishop back home in Guam, while some are -- Tupac Shakur played Bishop, who shot Raheem over a rusty-ass revolver and then met Q at his locker a few days later talkin' about "..... POTNAH!" in his breakout film role in the movie "Juice."

But with some of those references -- or maybe because of them -- the album has an Everyman feel to it. With songs about Saturdays, working for the weekend and quick trips up and down Highway 5, there isn't a lot of flash on "The Rise of Bishop." Not a lot of excess, nothing over-the-top, nothing too gaudy. Instead, what carries the album is its sincerity and the commitment the two MC's have to their point of view. Tory T admitting, "Money don't matter so much that I don't promote it," not only sounds novel and true, but t it feels like it as well, not because the listener may believe it but because he does. It's like there's no role playing here.

Caleb Cruz and Tory T aren't out to fake it till they make it or go along to get along. No. None of that. This is Bishop music -- working-class anthems, blue collar type of stuff, so it all makes for some pretty relatable ideas. Who hasn't wished it was Saturday or that the weekend wouldn't hurry up and come already on a mid-Monday morning while they were tired and cranky at work? They're all regular guys doing regular stuff in the community, a part of the community, and active in it.

On Friday, Sept 12, the Concrete Project are playing 2014's Rock the Boat fundraiser. It's six bands and one boat in Mission Bay harbor to benefit the Surfaid organization. Based in Encinitasm Surfaid is dedicated to improving living conditions for Third World communities that don't have access to clean drinking water, sanitaion systems, basic health care or nutrition. Down-to-earth stuff by down-to-earth folks.

J. Smith, aka 1019, is a San Diego native, rap fan and one half of the rap duo Parker & the Numberman. You can follow him on Instagram at 1019_the_numberman or on Twitter

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