Ah yes, music. A breath of fresh air, and perhaps one of the best relievers of stress; it also serves as a window through which we can catch glimpses of true peace-of-mind, for those who create it as well as listen. “Feel good music” is a good term used to describe music that is timeless and is playable no matter what direction hip hop music ends up going, and as cliché as that term may sound, L.A. hip hop duo Rebels to the Grain, definitely capture this essence in abundance. A group comprised of two musically inclined and talented musicians based out of Los Angeles, California who not only have a major stake in the hip hop game, but have a love, respect, and knowledge of it, which is evident in the music they create and their radio show: Breakbeats & Rhymes on 90.7 FM – KPFK Saturday mornings. Members MP and Cheddy have been have been involved in music for more than a decade, and formed their Rebels to the Grain imprint in 2005. MP was born and raised in Los Angeles, with his family hailing from Guaymas, Mexico. Before moving to Los Angeles, Cheddy spent a big part of his young life in India, Africa, and London. Their first album titled “There’s Something in the Seeds” serves as a backdrop to express their international backgrounds through their lyrical content.
Upon first play the listener embarks on a journey through the soul as well as a across the globe, with the opening track *We Takin’ This*, which is reminiscent of a well known group; A Tribe Called Quest’s Award Tour. The lyrics are centered on expressing where the group plans to take their music by calling out states and countries in cadence. You get a sense of enlightenment and positivity in the track *Classic Sensation*, also a feeling of nostalgia when the two M.C’s trade off lyrics infused with interpolations of classic rhymes form well known artists. The album takes a slight left turn with the track *It’s A Set Up,* reason being is it follows two tracks that seemed to be about the good of the music, only to end up at a “f**k the police” state of mind. However the lyrics are definitely nice, and the beat has moments of “Dilated Peoples” Work the Angels, type sample chops. Definitely a favorite beat on the album. Again the album gathers steam with *Breakbeats & Rhymes* which is named after their radio show, and *If Only She Knew* which provides that ‘potential love is in the air’ vibe surely most people can identify with. The duo make sure to express their feelings of love but also make sure that it’s known that music is their life with lines like, “That you could be part of my life/but girl I spend my 9-to-5 gettin’ down with the mic.”
Perhaps one of the most sonically inclined and promising songs on the album is *Vinyl(Let The Record Spin)* which speaks on the youth, the current state of the world, and how the two artists perceive things, ultimately ending a Dilla-esqe fade out that will undoubtedly leave the listener wanting more. *In Amsterdam* the main track that directly correlates to the album title, lyrics pertaining to that greenery that most people enjoy. A fun song and well put together as it transitions between two separate musically promising instrumentations. *Volume* is a straight hip hop record simply the essence: beats, rhymes, and life, while *Jackie Thompson* is a living reflection of memories and coming up as youngster and having something to look back and laugh at. The song ends with dialogue of children repeating words of positivity like “save the world” and “we all want peace”, definitely showing a realness and relatedness the two M.C’s posses; this dialogue then leads into what could be considered the best offering on the “There’s Something in the Trees” album.*If I Could Save The World* is a raw and gritty drum track composed in harmony underneath a sporadic bass-line and melodic keys. The lyrics reference Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Tupac, and what the duo would do to “save the world”, all in all a great song. *Let’s Take It Back* provides a more in-depth look into the family, and the beginning stages of the Rebels to the Grain outfit. The two final songs round out the album quite nicely *Freedom Taken* – great song with a great message conveyed over a jazzy framework and *This Goin’ Out* which is a shout out to the families and all who’ve supported the group’s success. Nice beat and some of the team’s best wordplay, very soulful and embodies that feel good music aspect perfectly.
Well, what can be said about Rebels to the Grain’s “There’s Something in the Trees” album? Amazingly conscious lyrics, awesome production, nice messages and a knowledge of the hip hop music game as a whole. Los Angeles rappers MP and Cheddy definitely hit the ground running with this one. Every track with the slight exception of *It’s A Set Up* (emphasis on slight), gives the listener an experience in music equipped with strong replay value and has the undeniable potential to remain in heavy rotation on any hip hop enthusiast’s iPod. The music is timeless, well put together and well worth countless listens. Relax your mind and let your conscious roam free, and become a Rebel to the Grain.
Daniel Levon Lunsford is a hip hop producer/composer, aspiring M.C. and a student from San Diego, California, with a genuine love and passion for music.