Review: Masai – Almost Home

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While listening to the 15 tracks that make up Almost Home you are getting to know the artist behind the music as if he’s there sitting next to you on a park bench, casually bearing his soul to you, while also making you laugh and carefully listening to what you have to say. That’s Masai, as I’ve come to know him.

For some unfortunate reason, such a personable artist-and-listener interaction and consequential intimate relationship feels rare in today’s music scene, in both local and international examples. In this particular release, emcee and writer Masai created an album that in theory, is all about him, his life and his experiences, and in its outcome, it is actually not only about him, his life and his experiences. He takes small details and turns the focus on the larger picture, all with the collaborative help of over a dozen reinforcements.

Almost Home joins releases Almost Gone (2007) and Almost Back (2010), bringing Masai’s trilogy of solo albums full-circle. The release date of Almost Home, today, February 13, 2013, marks the one-year anniversary of the passing of his mother and serves as a tribute to her life. The album overcomes hardships and grief, displaying strength, honesty, perspective, growth and depth, which are core themes of hip-hop and life, in and of itself.

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Masai’s Music Monday: Top 5 MCs of the 518

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My friend Masai, a local music enthusiast moonlighting as a rapper himself, compiled a list of his top five MC’s of the Capital Region and I couldn’t help but ask if I could repost it here.

I’m in total agreement with Masai in that every day I learn a little bit more about music in this area – whether in the form of a new show announcement, an artist I’ve never heard of before, new material, old material and so on, there’s so much out there. I haven’t heard of every MC on Masai’s list prior to reading it and that fact alone reinforces the importance of doing a little research on the music that’s being made in our own stomping grounds.

As you check out the artists on this list, you’ll start to see exactly why it’s an exciting thing to be a fan of hip hop/rap while residing in the Albany area. It’s going to be a good year for music in Albany, as it already has been.

Additionally, I recently previewed a couple of Masai’s tracks from his forthcoming album, “Almost Home,” which is available for pre-order. Also be sure to add February 28th to your calendar to celebrate the release officially, at the Bayou Cafe.

Thanks again to Masai for always speaking honestly, for humbly not putting himself on this list (no worries, you’re on mine!) and for doing his part in supporting the local music scene. Check out his feature after the jump!

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KC’s Music Monday: Masai

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Masai, local to the 518 and member of super-group Against The Grain, is releasing the final installment in his trilogy of solo albums, right in time for tax season. We’ve still got another month of listening to Turbotax ads on Pandora until the album drops but I figured I’d let you preview what I’ve been listening to now.

“Almost Home” is a 15-track high calibre line-up featuring collaborations with a generous handful of other talented area rappers, producers and musicians including MIRK, JB!! aka Dirty Moses, Sev Statik, Knowle’ge, KassCrook and also members of his own collective, Against The Grain.

In advance of the February 13 release, Masai has made two tracks available for streaming.

“Circles” is a clear favorite of mine (of what I’ve heard so far, that is.) The track features Mike Arson and the two go back and forth about the competitive nature between rappers, of commercial and underground influencers alike, conceptually running verbal circles around it all. The motif of circles is prevalent throughout the song and the chorus has been doing laps in my head since I heard it.

Side note: I nominate this song to be included in a chapter I read in a hip hop book yesterday, which compiled a list of the top mentions of “sweaters” in contemporary rap music. Pretty random and interesting list which included lyrics from Biggie, Kanye West and Pusha T. Listen for it.

The second track is “February Pimpin’ (Tax Money)” and features JB!! aka Dirty Moses, with PJ Katz of Pig Food Records on the production duties. This track will get stuck in your head if you welcome it. Not only do I love the satire but the song itself is done well on all counts. I seriously hope there’s a music video in the works because that’d be fun as hell to witness. From the artists directly, “The song satirically takes a look at how materialism and consumerism, combined with poor decision making, can influence urban workers who foolishly spend their income tax returns.”

If you like what you hear, make the album yours!