Thursday, September 18, 2014

Cincinnati Hip Hop Performed as a Story Book | Sleep - Branded: The Damon Winton Story (Free Download)

Not to sound like a broken record (or blog), but Cincinnati is producing some of the most innovative, artistic, and culturally and politically powerful music. 

Now add to that list the rapper story teller Sleep (one half of the duo - 2 Man Cypher) to that list. Frank, the new WUW? Cincinnati correspondent, sent Sleep's new album Branded: The Damon Winton Story over to our main office today. We have had the album on repeat all day. 

Not at all like most hip hop albums (or any music for that matter), this concept album is more of a story book than a music album. Channeling storytellers such as Nas, Public Enemy, NWA, and Rakim - Sleep narrates the story of young Damon Winton, the troubled youth growing up in a more troubled environment. 

Each track begins with a question about Damon as the social worker assigned to the case attempts to make sense to the tragic ending to the story. Sonically, the production of Dope Antelope is haunting and melodic, not necessarily following the rules of traditional hip hop production. Lyrically, Sleep pulls you into the story and paints a visual picture that places the listener at the center of the story as an intense observer.

At a time when pop culture is flooded with simple lyrics and formulaic production and the most commodified and one-dimensional messages, Sleep's biography of Damon Winton reminds us of how hip hop remains a powerful tool of social critique and imaginative creativity.

Take a moment to listen and make sure you follow Sleep Twitter and head over to Bandcamp to listen to his previous albums.

From the Nati Underground,
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