Reviews / unsigned hype

A-B-E: Straight Outta South Bronx

My life was and still is far from perfect, trying’ to dissect myself as a wordsmith; to better understand why and where the hurt is, so you know you ain’t alone through my verses.

– A-B-E

One persistent sentiment seems to linger among “real” hip-hop heads these days: you need to have rap ‘credibility’. This grading system, though, has always had a flaw. It largely ignores the sheer amount of first-hand experience that one may possess – even without doing anything in particular. It also ignores the power of an average man. Not all rappers are trap dwelling hot-heads ready to pop-off at the first sign of beef. Some are just regular Joes, like you and me, with a unique ability to make relatable “reality-based” music that isn’t forced or contrived.

I’m constantly hunting for such artists.

Meet A-B-E, also known as Abe the Profit. Coming straight out of the South Bronx, he was inspired by hip-hop culture and began beatboxing and rapping at a young age. He doesn’t quite fit the mould of the average NYC spit kicker. He’s mad educated, having earned his B.Sc. and M.A. at New York University. He’s a published poet, has shared the stage with Harry Belafonte, Rosario Dawson, Dr. Cornel West, Rosie Perez, and others. Impressive right?

He’s an activist, educator and speaker – and has performed/toured all over the world in the name of hip-hop. He recently released what he describes as his “labor of love”, A South Bronx Tale LP. You can hear the work A-B-E’s put into this project. It has great sonic appeal and traverses a plethora of subject matter, some of which is unique on the NYC scene.

Disconnected Youth, for example, tells the tale of a young outsider, which I’m sure lots of youth can relate to. Real With Yourself, talks about the woes of the 9-5 struggle, but stresses the importance of staying true to your personal goals and dreams. The super deep If I Should Die Tonight is an open (final) letter to his loved ones and detractors. On the track This Is For The Kids, he plays the role of a too real for TV substitute teacher:

“Christopher Columbus ain’t discover America; he killed Indians – he’s a masked murderer!”

The real gems – for me anyways – comes at the tail end of the album. The relationship-themed Work It Out, the sexy Chocolate Pomegranate, the sax-driven Speak My Truth are must-bumps.

Although his background may not what some of the more ‘trap-aholic’ heads today are checking for, it’s definitely what they need. With a cadence that almost puts me in mind of Immortal Technique, and a very clever song writing style, A-B-E delivers a solid debut solo. I’d love to see him speak live one day – he comes across as someone with a lot to say!

Riley About Author

Riley here — father, artist, videographer, professional writer and SERIOUS hip-hop head. I'm a member of the Universal Zulu Nation, and I think everything is better on vinyl. Add me on Twitter! @specialdesigns