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The Prodigal Child of Pasadena (Album Review by Jhantu Randall)

I met up with the current subject for this article, Bing Bing on a Saturday evening at Nate’s Chicken and Waffles in Seattle. Before I get too far ahead of myself, Bing Bing is the stage name of Michael Taylor, the man who brought me in and gave me an opportunity at ThaWilsonBlock Magazine. With that explanation stated up front, this article is the perfect test as I’ve covered artists, live performances, and entrepreneurs and this man is a culmination of all 3.

From creating a publication that promotes local artists and events that highlight the culture, to a podcast that gives listeners a chance to hear the voice of an unheard star before they make their mark, Hip Hop is the lifeblood that tells the hustlers’ story. It gives a voice to the voiceless, the underclass that's routinely propped up as pawns and then forced to carry the burden of feeling forgotten. It’s these precise circumstances that fuel an indescribable desire to rise above the position your were given, live the American Dream and experience creating the vision.

As we sat for a meeting, he broke down the numbers of the articles traction and other things that had to do with music in general. As this conversation carried on, I was invited to hear some of Bing Bing’s music which I admit I’d never really sat and listened to prior to this. In situations like this it’s best not to go into listenings with any sort of preconceived notions or expectations and just let your genuine reactions dictate your first impression as you begin to form an opinion. I won’t get into the songs I heard in that moment other than to say that Bing is definitely an emcee as opposed to just being a rapper. For him it’s more about a feeling and conveying a story as opposed to just being a dope spitter with a catalog of quotable’s.

With the release of Bing Bing’s mixtape entitled “Beautiful Struggle” I initially had my reservations. It holds the same name as Talib Kweli’s second solo studio album but the phrase itself is broad and I was curious to hear Bing’s interpretation of this concept. The opening track immediately hits with an aggressive tone and swift delivery in which you can sense his hunger carried in every bar. The album, and I call it that due to the sampling and music used to create a project which elevates the listener and gives them a flashback to the golden era that inspired many to write when they were younger, is filled with interludes from other artists and associates who give Bing a shoutout. It’s these bridges that reinforce the progress he’s made through his journey thus far. Like the album name itself, his use of Nas’ classic memory lane beat made me eager to hear a new story over a beat that demands the ability to tell a story that can describe a common grind while at the same time, still be unique the the artists baring it.

Being associated with a person who possesses this kind of drive only shows me that with the right outlook one can take a mere idea and create a foundation that allows others to build and link as they spread to a variety of venues in an ever expanding region. In the end, theres always multiple ways to tell your story with a lasting effect.



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