Reflections on Brass

by Dan-O

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During my #FMEAttentionUndivided interview with Big Flowers we got a chance to talk about albums that are too much to digest when they come out. The analogy was a bookshelf you stick the new release on until you get to it. The great thing about Big Flowers is he’s just as passionate about other peoples music as his own. Big Flowers made an excellent case for Brass being better than Haram. It was not an argument centered around any issues with Haram, but the idea that Brass is a career moment for Willie Green. As I’ve had more time to live with it, I think his point is excellent. Someone is screaming at the screen right now “WILLIE GREEN MIXED AND MASTERED BOTH!” Totally correct but not the same way. Brass is mastered in a particularly unique and crisp way that makes it utterly engulfing, then look at the tracklist. Willie Green produced Furies and The Blues Remembers Everything The Country Forgot, the first two songs on the project. His sonic vision sets the tone.

Woods is flat out different on Brass. The roaring dynamic performance Moor Mother gives from track one all the way to the end of track fifteen changed the way he works. Just listen to Woods explain the unique process of making the album on Call Out Culture. It was done in a specific crunch of time with the best Preservation beats in the best places (Arkeology is one of the best Preservation beats ever). A touch of Navy Blue, one of my favorite Alchemist beats ever on Giraffe Hunts. It was the greatest lyricist in the world being pushed by a new rhyme partner who fears nothing and quite the opposite of being rattled, Woods loved it. This wasn’t even a little outside his comfort zone. We still get ELUCID, Fielded, Steel Tipped Dove as chief engineer as well as production contributor.

Woods said the title interested him because brass is thought of as dirty and cheap. He pushes this to the extreme making the album fearlessly intellectual while imbuing it with the grit and sandpaper soul only the hardest hip hop possesses. Am I saying Brass is better than Haram because it knows its mission on a deeper level? A little. That’s certainly not the only factor but it does factor. I’m going further and saying when we look back on the albums that shine the brightest in the legacy of Backwoodz, few will compare against Brass. Child Actor really is one of the necessary parts of the all time mixture and the beat he gives for Rapunzel (he does four total) thumps hard with creepy chamber music voices sampled behind it. We are not even a minute in before Woods says “Allen Greenspan F*cking Ayn Rand, she came, finished him with her hand. Lit a cigarette they split in the dark.” It’s almost not fair to quote lyrics, we could do this all day. On the same song Moor Mother says “closed eyes see bliss, while the righteous sharpen swords in the mist.” Every song is haunting, gripping, unyielding, like your mind is trapped in Jurassic Park being tricked by the beauty of John Forte’s voice just to be swallowed by Woods on Guinness muttering “everything a little shabbier than it seem, than it seem.” over a funeral epitaph of a Navy Blue beat.

I’m glad I took the time to really absorb it. I needed to carry this project away from the excitement of its release and just be with it. I don’t think it can be duplicated or followed up. It’s a perfect line up and we get to show it to people, scare new ears, for as long as anyone will listen.

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