Support! Bekay – Hunger Pains
An emcee from the current crop of up-next challengers that not only flaunts the true nature of the culture itself, but is a student of said culture and wears that distinction on his chest proudly. And he hails from Brooklyn (as if you couldn’t tell from his moniker): whodathunkit, huh?
Hunger Pains (Coalmine Records) is a study in pride and workmanlike effectiveness. In a rare coup for ANY rapper with no major label backing, Bekay has amassed a roster of high-profile music makers to create soundscapes to assist his more than deliberate rhythm technique. From J.R. Rotem to Illmind, to The Alchemist to Marco Polo, the music is well taken care of. Make no mistake about it, there’s no case of Bekay getting outdone on his own record by highbrow producers. With his vivid imagery and inescapable urgency, he more than blends in with the varied yet unified production.
If you need proof of my claims of this record’s merit, look no further than the first song, “I Am”. In a display of pseudo-personification Bekay proclaims, “I’m in BK when I write this poem/I’m two turntables and a microphone/yo, the feeling you get when you hear an ill line, the pad you scribble your rhyme into to kill time.” He spits that all over a DJ Revolution backdrop that co-signs him with endless scratch technique.
Over the first listen it’s easy not to spot the thoroughness of this record, but once you make it to the third or fourth go ‘round the consistency shines brightly since there are no real weak spots in the 15-track sequence. Bekay is definitely blue collar in his approach, but he is a bit more refined than you may expect. It won’t be too difficult for him to gain new fans from different demographics on this one.
Then there are the guest MCs scattered across Hunger Pains. “Pipe Dreams” pairs Bekay with R.A. The Rugged Man, who shows why having him guest on a record is an exercise in ultimate confidence (or exceptional bravery). On “The Raw”, Saigon and Inspectah Deck utterly destroy their guest spots, as do fellow monsters Heltah Skeltah (“Crazy”), Dilated Peoples (“I Am”-remix), Wordsworth (“Skemers”), and Masta Ace (“Brooklyn Bridge”).
Hunger Pains plants Bekay in the running for torchbearer of the culture. That’s not to say this record will be a platinum seller (at least not when I wake up in the morning). But this kind of quality and effort is an example of an attitude that should be displayed by any and all that call themselves “Hip Hop Artists.” To use a tried and true internet gauging technique, blue collar hustle>>>>>corner hustle, any day of the week.