Purchase your copy of the 19 track album, Let the Right Ones In here:
I’ve watched over the last few years as hip-hop has merged with cookie cutter EDM. Moe Pope & Rain‘s Let the Right Ones In is hip-hop merging with intelligent and versatile electronic composition. Oh and it’s important to note that it’s sample free. Yeah, wrap your head around that while you listen from track to track and notice that raw instrumentation that is hard to find in hip-hop. When you aren’t entangled in the prose of Moe, your prefrontal cortices are massaged by Rain’s pristine beats. I hear sounds in the same vein as Flying Lotus and Prefuse 73. You know that the music on a hip-hop album is quality when you could easily sit through the whole thing completely instrumental.
With just the real amount of drug and street life references, Let the Right Ones In didn’t leave me feeling like Moe Pope was trying too hard to appeal to any one kind of person. Not over-the-top aggressive or too safe and positive. I don’t respond well to either, so this album clicks with me. Pope uses his art to present his thoughts to the masses while also representing what he stands for as a man. “I’m just trying to find a little light side of music that I’m making for the world n’ stack a couple dollars for my wife and baby girl.” There’s no testosterone fueled brainless shit talk. He dismisses “emcees trying to waste their breath on anybody else trying to say they’re next”.
An hour of songs ranging in BPM, mood, and style. A slew of references litter the tracks, ranging from Sydney Pollock to Wilco to the honey coated candy yams Moe had for lunch. As Pope says, “Every allegory is a gift from the troubadour.” On hype tracks like “Lift Off,” you gotta open your ears wide to follow the swift lyric spitting. Halfway through my favorite track, “Breath/Bleed,” he speaks in an MF Doom style rhythm, “stop buddy you’re major/ lasers in the right hand/ all hail the sound guy who put the mic on the stand/ for which to shake the earth with/ heating up the ozone/ sweating up the scene a bit but I’m as cool as sno cones”. Pretty much sums Moe Pope up.
Moe Pope and Rain have included an eclectic group of hip-hop artists to throw it down on some verses. Reks, Casso, Ceschi (Fake Four), Blacastan, Boycott Blues, and John Robinson (the only MC to have a full album produced by MF Doom). Dua Boakye of Boston’s Bad Rabbits, Jake Mehrmann of Tan Vampires and Lady Lamb the Beekeeper provide vocal accompaniment on a few cuts, adding the edge that you will only find from an artist from New England. “Beautiful Filth” and “Sunday Morning” are pretty two minute respites, featuring the wispy vocals of Julia Easterlin and Tea Leigh respectively. These tracks allow the listener a chance to take a deep breath of air or THC. Tea’s voice spirals around in and out of a violin, snare, and high hat combo that reminds me of a contemplative turning point of some film. “Dangerous you are not one of us, you’re an island, you’re a sinking stone,” Easterlin sings atop a rise and fall drum and synth track.
Moe Pope is one of those artists you’ve heard about working their ass off for years in a metro area like Boston, fighting against the odds to come to a crossroads where that big beautiful success they dream of is within their grasp. “Leader’s of the new school come and hop around,” he implores us to move and take a stand while we still can. Channeling Kayne and Jay when they were hungry and still had their feet on the ground everyday in Brooklyn and Chicago. I think Pope is gaining speed at the right time as our society calls out for role models that aren’t all about money, power, and Kim Kardashian‘s ass. After listening to this album a few times, what I gather is that Pope is pulling no punches when it comes to his dark perception of society and urban life. And yet, there is something more behind it. Moe Pope is not only showcasing the pitfalls and choices that a young man encounters on the street, but also the means to navigate around and through them. “At heaven’s gate, Let the Right Ones In.” Yeah, you had better learn which ones are which quick, Pope is saying. “Roxbury’s finest” has done a fine job with this one, a gem of a hip-hop album and a statement locking down the top position as Boston’s best.
In celebration of the new album, Moe Pope and The Brain Trust hosted a sold-out release party at Brighton Music Hall in Allston, MA on Friday [1.25.13]. Pope and Rain were joined on stage by vocalist/hype-man Chris Talken, band mate Mike McCarthy (also of Wobblesauce and Supersillyus Life Band) on keys/synths, as well as Liam Buell on violin and Chris Klaxton on trumpet. Throughout the night, an assortment of local artists graced the stage, including Dua Boakye of Bad Rabbits, John Robinson, and Julia Easterlin, all of whom are featured on Let the Right Ones In.
John Robinson starts the night off early. I just manage to catch the end of his set, which he concludes with a song called “Black Gold,” produced by the renowned MF Doom. It’s a politically charged commentary on oil and our involvement in the Middle East. “It’s time for our people to shine like Black Gold,” he proclaims, and the crowd chants back, “Black Gold!” (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pwZSFltvCbk)
The tone for the evening has been set, and the venue begins filling in. I’m happy to have staked out a spot near the front for the next supporting act, Julia Easterlin. She’s clad in a little blue dress, with a bob haircut, and you would never believe that such a powerful voice came out of such a petite woman. I watch in amazement as she finesses her loop station, harmonizing with herself to create a chorus of Julias. The outcome is a sound reminiscent of Imogen Heap, delicate, high-pitched and ethereal. “That was lovely,” my friend Rob Uslan sighs when she’s finished. And it truly was.
After a short break, the men of the hour take the stage, and the sold-out Brighton Music Hall erupts in cheers and applause. The performance is an affirmation of the duo’s ability to span the divide between hip-hop and other musical genres. Rain provides a backdrop, futuristic, bass-heavy and rife with snares, on which Pope and his eclectic array of guest performers lay down their rhymes. A parade of talented friends crosses the stage over the course of the evening, and the music itself is as varied as these performers. A bluegrass violin solo by Liam Buell, a soulful serenade by Julia Easterlin, and a drumline-esque percussive breakdown are just some of the diverse elements showcased in the live experience of the group that proudly advertises using no samples.
By the end of the set, the crowd simply wants more, more, more! Moe Pope and Rain are happy to oblige. They tease at the possibility of a double encore, which the frenzied crowd is eager to gobble up, and then announce that if we want it, we’ll have to come see them at their next show, Febuary 16th at The Press Room in Portsmouth, NH. I’m so there.