I’ve never written a music review before. My taste in music is eclectic enough that I rarely share common ground with others, so it never felt right. Especially as a 20-something nerdy white kid, my love of old-school hip-hop seems unusual to many. Thus, I tend to just keep my music confined to my headphones.

But Tairrie B needs to be written about.

121001-tairrie-b-640x426

I discovered her music by accident. When I’m at work, hip-hop helps me get through the day. Usually, I have YouTube playing music in the background, and I just let it cycle through entire video playlists. It’s great, because this means I regularly come across tracks I haven’t heard before, and probably never would have heard otherwise (Pro tip: There are lots of awesome, rare hip-hop classics on YouTube. Go listen.).

About a year ago, with my usual assortment of funky beats playing in the background, Tairrie B’s “Foxy Lady” came on. I had never heard of it (or her), but I was immediately hooked. I stopped what I was doing and listened to the whole thing. Then I listened to it again. And again.

The beat was infectious. The samples were dope. I wasn’t listening too close to whatever was playing before, but when Tairrie B came on, my jaw dropped. When I heard the line, “Ren is producing the style I’m introducing,” I thought, “Who is this? There’s no way she is referring to MC Ren.” I had to know more.

Next on YouTube’s lineup was another Tairrie B song, “Murder She Wrote.” Curious, I let it play, and once again, I loved it!
A quick Google search showed me that Tairrie B had released one hip-hop album alongside Eazy-E (!), so I immediately called up my local record store and asked them to find a copy for me. They special-ordered it for me, and I was thrilled to pick up “The Power of a Woman” a few days later. Her website also had a download for a second, unreleased album (“Single White Female”), so I got that as well.

Realizing that these albums were about as old as me, I was surprised when she announced that she would be releasing a new hip-hop album in 2016, a quarter- century after “The Power of a Woman.” I had heard that she had become a metal musician after her initial release, so I had no idea what to expect.

c6f8c345494dd01ee6c93f47de9f70e5.500x722x1

In the meantime, I had fallen in love with her old music. She was quickly becoming one of my favorite artists, with her empowering themes on top of candy beats and awesome samples.

When Tairrie B finally released “Vintage Curses,” I… didn’t initially like it, I’ll be honest. The first time I heard the album, it didn’t do anything for me. I felt like it was an odd blend of styles that didn’t really work together, some weird, witchy fusion of old-school hip hop, metal, and classic rock. There were a few tracks that stood out to me, but on the whole, I was disappointed. But, for whatever reason, I kept listening.

I listened to the whole album multiple times, and began to like what I was hearing. I realized that the album actually succeeded for the very reasons I hadn’t taken to it in the first place: it wasn’t like other music. In so many ways, Tairrie B is an antithesis. She was white in a largely non-white genre. She was a woman in a largely male genre. She makes both hip-hop and heavy metal. She had extremely progressive lyrics and messages from the beginning, and wasn’t afraid to be in-your-face about it, especially at a time when few hip hop artists were vocal about topics like women’s empowerment. Now, she is re-establishing her rap career at an older age. In so many ways, she is, and has always been, the opposite of what you’d expect.

Thus, it feels completely earned when Tairrie says “The Power of a Woman was ahead of its time” (“Spirit Queen”). She’s right, it totally was.

The blending of seemingly unrelated musical styles on her new album works surprisingly well. The album is autobiographical, both lyrically and musically. You hear the influences of both her hip hop roots and her metal career. It is truly unlike anything I’ve ever heard.

It’s interesting to hear Tairrie B address her age. Referring to herself as “The Crone,” and including lines like “My self-expression is progressing with age,” her introspective view of hip hop then and now is revealed. She waxes nostalgic when talking about the old days, but she is not afraid to critique the newer generation of hip hoppers.

With this in mind, “Vintage Curses” is very much in tune with her style. It is challenging, forward-thinking, and it combines her upbringing in the hip-hop world with her career in metal. The more you listen to it, the more organic it feels. As far as Tairrie’s rapping ability, it’s stronger than ever. She absolutely rips it up on “Vintage Curses,” giving shoutouts to the pioneering hip hop acts and re-asserting herself as a dominant force in the current scene.

Tairrie B Playlist:

1. Foxy Lady

2. Wicked Witch of the West Coast

3. Murder She Wrote

4. Pull Up to Tha Bumper

5. Anything You Want

6. Beware the Crone

7. Spirit Queen

8. Respect Yourself

9. Down as Dirt

10. Ruthless Bitch

Advertisements