"Crime in the City," the first single from Big Block Silvers' upcoming "Bold" EP (scheduled for release on Feb. 24), is a brilliant blend of golden-era rap production and neighborhood storytelling with lead vocalist Blame One sharing street narratives over Harry Apollo breakbeats and Jon J instrumentation.
It's timeless boom bap, a modern take on Kool G Rap's "Streets of New York" where NYC is replaced with Oceanside, California. And while it isn't quite a "gangster rap" single, it is the North County rapper reminiscing about some gangster s---.
His delivery's smooth, sharp and well-metered: "Before the gang injunction/ The function was no soft cats/ 20 deep peep your chain come up off that/ I'm talking all the way through the late '90s/ Out in the tunnels where you would find me/ It was straight grimy."
Blame One doesn't rest on that though. Pulling from a deep well, he also uses imagery as a framework tool to keep his story moving: "Before I read the Bible/ I was running from the 5-0... sipping Old Gold/ While I'm 15 years old."
And you can picture him, a boulevard track star getting drunk and sprinting from police, a fitting visual since "Crime in the City" covers a lot of ground as it's equal parts cautionary tale, coming-of-age story, and redemption song. It's not clear if these themes run through the entire Big Block Silvers project but as a lead single, it's a track that a lot of people will easily identify with.
And that's what artists do: They share pieces of themselves in hopes that their audience will be able to relate or maybe even take something with them that they can apply to their own lives.
So for listeners thinking they're trapped in a rough environment with no way of escape, if Blame did it maybe they can too. As he says himself: "I was you/ So when you feel like there's no hope/ Put on this joint 'cause I love life, it's so dope."
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