In 2013 when I reviewed Psalm One’s Free Hugs mixtape I didn’t know anything about how bad her time at Rhymesayers had been. I was just a rap fan living in Maine who knew something wasn’t right. My review starts “Psalm One has always been an immeasurable talent. When she broke out a fickle hip hop underground built her to be something they wanted.” This was based on reading reactions to her albums, going to Rhymesayers shows and asking why she wasn’t on the bill. If you follow hip hop you know this all exploded. She called out her own label, calling them out again once a series of stories about abuse and cover up came about(if you want to know the deal on that read this). Nothing that happened ever challenged my relationship to her music. I’ve always trusted Psalm One to keep it funky and reframe her life, not just survive but thrive.
Big $ilky has been about rebuilding strength against great odds while not losing your humor, confidence, or dexterity within the craft. On the first song(Jesse Got Away) off the recently released Volume 3 Psalm One is crystal clear about the journey, “I changed so much since Volume 1 I don’t give a F_ who don’t like me.” Even harder to put to paper and record “See I don’t align with no coward, cause I used to be one.”
The difference between Psalm One and Big $ilky is Angel Davanport who I knew since the first time I heard her voice on Volume 1 could spit too well to be new. Volume 3 is a real moment for her. Her best verse for my money is the one that kicks off McNothing (produced by Custom Made). The very first words are “Sucking black dick doesn’t make you an ally, having black children don’t make you my friend.” That whole verse is what makes her performance so engaging throughout. The fearlessness is three dimensional, proud of herself (mind and body) knocking down anyone fronting while standing for black women, Trans lives.
For the listener, Big $ilky is about FUN @$$ music. My favorite song of the seven is Sorry Not Sorry produced by Optiks. Waves of bass hit as Angel kicks off. It’s a battle rap bar bloodbath where the two square off against the shadows that follow them from a distance. In the first verse Angel catches my first rewind as she states “Yeah I talk my sh_t, my titties big just like my status. Everyone’s a critic till they business is in shambles.” Psalm One gets to strike last dropping “And I’m still in shock that I’m still hot but I’m not too surprised. I was always better than the best I just got vilified.” At the end of the last word a scream gets sampled as the beat dies and the song ends. These two get the best out of each other.
The Bandcamp description put out that this could be the final volume of the series. If that’s the case I just wanted to celebrate the gifts. 1. Psalm One remains undefeated on hooks. She keeps them straightforward but themed and clever (see Britnee Speerz or Glockenspiel) 2. As an executive producer Psalm Ones ear is on point with Custom Made, Optiks, Bionik and Budah Tye. 3. Both deserve massive credit for building a place in their music where they could discuss their politics and emotions without forced gentility. They never lost their teeth. Angel on Glockenspiel sums it up “Prayers like eighteen minutes long, you interrupt me and we fightin’ don’t play about my God, the dead, my sleep, peace, or my silence.” If the flow of music from this group halts (even for a while) after this I’m glad they stood and fought for their space while keeping as composed as they did. Recommend these 3 volumes to someone who needs it then recommend it to someone who will be offended. So these words stick to them and don’t come off.