This listen by Blue Scholars takes me way, way back, like, sophomore year of college. Nostalgia is a trip, I’m tellin’ ya’ll!
Bayani, the acclaimed second record of Seattle duo Blue Scholars (a neat little play on ‘blue collar’ if you didn’t catch it already) is one album I WORE OUT back on its release in 2007. In the mid ’00s emcee Geologic and producer Sabzi were rising in the West coast underground for their DIY approach to rap and their constant push for activism and social justice, with Geo providing sharp takes on class, race, and imperialism, drawing from his Filipino heritage and the duo’s come up at the University of Washington. Geo’s lyrics are weighty and thoughtful, and was a revelation for me diving into hip-hop in my early 20s. Sabzi is phenomenal as well, with beats that are both spacey and rooted in the earth. Plus plenty of booming drums.
It’s been at least a half-decade since listening to Bayani last and I’m struck by its heart and honesty. The vibe is absolutely uplifting, and the warm feel and positive energy Geo and Sabzi brings is welcome. They’re all about bucking the system, bringing power to the people, and persevering through the struggle. “Opening Salvo” definitely was one of my favorites back on release and still knocks just as hard today, as Geo goes in, delivering verses of power and striving for freedom.