On 2008’s Hip Hop In The Soul, Cymar Simmons, better known to the hip hop world as Cymarshall Law, laid out his ‘hip hop mission statement,’ to listeners: “I’m doin’ this to represent the regular man, the regular woman—the 9-to-5 workers. My dudes in college. My dudes on the block. I’m doin’ this for anybody who ever tried to hold me back—that tried to hold YOU back. Know what I’m sayin’? This is the rawest, purest part of me—Hip Hop In The Soul…because there’s only one of us—Let’s go!” Three years later, Cy and Mr. Joeker are back with the sequel — Hip Hop In The Soul 2 — featuring an even more conscious Cy once again spitting alongside Hungarian producer Mr. Joeker’s Euro-electronic boom bap.
One complaint of the duo’s first release was its overemphasis on the album’s title/message. Yes, Cymarshall Law apparently has “hip hop in his soul,” and yes, there’s a whole lot wrong with the world today, but the semi-conscious rapper still struggled to let his audience know what he really had to say. On HHITS2, he lets it be known. The follow up presents a lyrically matured Cymarshall Law and an even more dynamic Mr. Joeker sound, a byproduct of the duo’s growth between releases.
Born in Luton, England (30 miles north of London), but raised in Jersey, Cy brings some universal-feel-good-conscious rap to the buffet table that is hip hop through and through. Whether you’re from the East or the West Coast; or for that matter, eastern or western hemisphere, something on this record will catch your ear and pull you in to listen more.
On the opener, “How I Feel”, Cy goes from delivering rapid Jersey rhymes telling it how it is, to switching it up with a sound that could find him opening for Damian Marley. The feel on the first track is definitely a sign of things to come as each song seems to have its own myriad of topics to run through. There’s the subject of “Freedom of Speech”, race issues (“The Color”), the police, military, war, corruption and the genocide in the Sudan (“911”), as well as philosophies like discovering nothing is what it seems (“Sing This Picture”) and Cy’s insomnia inducing over-dedication to music (“No Sleep”).
Mr. Joeker didn’t garner the praise he deserved for the duo’s first effort and history more than likely will repeat itself, but the production on HHITS2 (particularly the latter parts of the LP) often overshadows Cymarshall Law himself. Whether it’s the relentless guqin (a plucked seven string Chinese music instrument) loop on “Murderous” or soulful samples on “Everyday” and “The Broken Hearted”, Joeker lets his presence be known and his craft more evident. Joeker not only proves himself on the keys and live drums (“911” and “The Color”), but also various synths (“Rings of Fire” and “Bump in the Night”), horns (“I’m Gonna Win“ and “Great Ones”), and least not forget his masterful DJ cuts (“Rebound Girl”) throughout the hour-long musical journey.
Cymarshall Law is a name you’ve probably heard before and more than likely will again, but take a second to check the guy out this time. Lines like, “So where’s the freedom of speech, Mr. President? / Videos don’t get played, they’re likely to lead to intelligence / Freedom with a fine line / Which is why I don’t see Boondocks on primetime,” will hook you from the start. And the minute you hear the beat to “I’m Gonna Win”, you’ll be upset it took you this long to come around.
Cy is a quality storyteller in a hip hop age full of emcees rapping about wanting to be rich and upon becoming rich, rapping about the excessiveness of their own wealth. Cy stands out amongst most lyricists simply by having a message to release unto the world. In addition to being a solid follow-up to its late ’08 predecessor, Hip Hop In The Soul 2 is hip hop for the soul. The combination of Cy’s lyricism and Mr. Joeker’s beyond proficient production makes for another tremendous record and hopefully the second of many albums to come.
How I Feel[audio:http://kevinnottingham.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/10/1.Cymarshall-Law-Mr.JoeKer-How-I-Feel.mp3]
I’m Gonna Win[audio:http://kevinnottingham.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/10/5.Cymarshall-Law-Mr.JoeKer-Im-Gonna-Win.mp3]