Nomadic Bloggers is a relatively new blog still in search of a niche. One potential focus we had in mind was writing about Rochester rap, as it is NB’s hometown. Sadly, such a goal is easier said than done as Roc hip hop is all but nonexistent. And finding music worthy of posting from such a small pool is harder still. That said, we had a stroke of luck, a Christmas miracle of sorts.

While browsing the local section of The Record Archive late last December, my brother stumbled across a modest, purple CD titled Flower City Frieza Prt. II: Welcome To Oblivion. He bought it, brought it home, and Googled KZA K’Lee. What he found was this:

This video blew us both away. Never before had we seen a Hip Hop video filmed in a place we recognized as home. At the same time, though, it seemed so foreign. There is an aspect of local pride essential to hip hop which we had previously never experienced. I say pride because we are proud to be from the same city as KZA K’Lee.

There is not much in the way of a plot to the video, instead KZA and his crew go buck wild before an abandoned building. Lots of flames, masks, bats, and even a Katana. The production — handled by KZA himself — is looming, formidable, and all-consuming. Full-bodied synths wail to introduce the track before a rather traditional drum pattern breaks in, accented by police sirens. Lyrically, KZA employs a veteran rapid-fire flow to tackle topics of police brutality and his hip hop excellence.

“Tamed lion inside a cage, filled with rage
Red in my eye where’s the stage?”

But this video is nearly two years old. What of KZA today? Worry not, he is still out here hip hopping. In fact, he just recently released a ten-track beat tape titled HOLLABACK. I appreciate the monologue that comes at the end of “Goul (intro)”. It finds the narrator explaining BLK WAV.’s desire to keep hip hop music alive. Not just one sub-genre, but the overarching genre as a whole. Trap, boom bap, alternative – it’s all love. The aptly named “Nostalgia” finds KZA reminiscing back to the days when boom bap was king. Even so, it has a fresh feel to it, far from sounding dated.

The juxtaposition of these first two tracks gives you a sense for the diversity found on the tape. If I had to characterize the project as a whole, I would say it has a gritty, industrial thread running through it. At times, there seems to be a bit of an 8-bit influence while at others we get more dance-able tracks. Throughout, the beats feature an interesting selection of samples and impressively dense bass. I’d be interested to hear someone go in on some of these beats as their complexities make them rather complete on their own. Check the project out below and if you know of any other Rochester-based hip hoppers, send them our way.


Ian Lunn

"Little things are big things to mice"

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