Self-described Hiphopraganda-ist Sun Rise Above is one of the more distinguished left-wing artists gaining ascendancy in the underground scene. His new album Every Day I Wake Up On the Wrong Side of Capitalism (2011) gives a clear picture of what “Hiphopraganda” is all about. Often, modern-day music can be of high quality while espousing reactionary messages, while other times CDs can espouse progressive ideas but be of low quality. Every Day I Wake Up On the Wrong Side of Capitalism thankfully suffers from neither of these ailments.
Every Day I Wake Up On the Wrong Side of Capitalism is as aggressive-sounding as its title, with abrupt transitions between the adrenaline-filled songs. The sound of the album is innovative and raw. The use of audio clips from various programs ranging from comic routines to news broadcasts further contribute to its rough feel. While Sun Rise Above has often been compared with fellow left-wing rap artists Immortal Technique and Dead Prez, here he shows his ability to stand head and shoulders above other acts. Compared to other artists the political message espoused is much more clear and sublime.
Many hip-hop artists with left-leanings give their music a “revolutionary” tone yet make little reference to the class nature of their everyday struggles. In contrast, Sun Rise Above’s Every Day I Wake Up On the Wrong Side of Capitalism gives a solid picture of how the genre of political music should sound.
The Sound & the Content
The tempo of the tracks ranges from mellow and feel-good to forceful and aggressive, to haunting and contemplative. Rhythmic beats and synth are coupled with masterful lyrics that clearly show an understanding of Marxist theory. One can feel the artist’s contempt for the exploitative nature of capitalist society and all the ill fruits it bears.
The song “The Human Cost” starts with a eerie, melancholy guitar riff before the beat kicks in and the lyrics begin to flow. The first lines eloquently express the frustration one feels belonging to the working class, when the hammer hits home with the moving chorus:
“How many mothers cried today?
How many looked up at the sky and prayed to try to find a way?
Yeah how many children died today?
How many workers gave their life away so you could live it up?”
Another song, “Illegal,” makes good use of the saxophone while giving a vivid picture of the immigrant question in the United States. True to Sun Rise Above’s lyrical style and featuring artist Truth Universal; “Illegal” describes political issues in a hard-hitting way:
“The immigration debate taking place is metal masturbation,
Media saturated, the workers have no nation,
Yet today they say that positions an apparition,
‘Cause internationalism don’t mash with their system”
This sort of rhetoric is consistent with all the tracks on the album. This is not confined to this album – one finds radical lyrics throughout his entire discography; you will always find direct references to Marxism, classes, class struggle and the imperialist policies of the U.S. without losing creativity and freshness. The only disappointment is the short duration of some of the more compelling songs.
Throughout the CD, Sun Rise Above’s talents as a lyricist shine through above all else. The rhymes do not appear forced but flowing. Topics include a plethora of social issues, including poverty and the demonization of the Afghan and Iraqi insurgencies. The song “Kamikaze” is a brilliant example of Sun Rise Above’s lyrical craftsmanship:
“Yo let me explain this, voting never changed shit,
Casting ballots for four more years of the same shit,
Nah, we organize on the ground level,
We’re Capitalism’s gravediggers, gave us the shovels,
Can you dig it? ‘Cause the ground is already soft,
From the tears of the millions of children that’s dying every year,
They feed on your fear and obedience is weakness,
They want to kill me ‘caus I dare to speak this,
While the preachers preach this turn the other cheek shit,
Meekness can only keep us from inheriting the earth,
Worse than being slaves is to cave to the conditions,
If we’ve got the key, why are we locked in prison?
It’s an explosive situation, a time to make decisions,
And blow the door right off the mother fucking hinges,
You can’t beat city hall but you can blow it to the fucking ground,
It’s rebel radio broadcasting from underground”
Although the album is overtly political, “Blood (On Your Loafers)” is an example of the artist’s hip-hop lyrical prowess:
“Give infinite reasons for doing what is prohibited,
Living in a place where bone breaks are actual,
Actual raps are backed by factual sources,
Forces combine, ride like wild horses,
Or more, this Rolling Stone bowl into the foul forces,
That tortures, bodies are hoisted upon the rack,
Heart attack serious snatching jewels out of your Prada sack,
Part of that, ‘cause god’s deader than the art of rap”
Sun Rise Above’s album is overall a quality contribution to a music scene thirsty for new revolutionary voices. After decades of the dilution of the revolutionary nature of the hip-hop genre by 50 Cent and Eminem imitators, Sun Rise Above returns hip-hop to its true roots and acts as a voice for the millions of Americans wronged by capitalism every day.
Recommended for download:
“Law and Order”
“The Human Cost”
“Every Day (I Wake Up)”
Sun Rise Above’s website
SRA’s Facebook page
1. Root and Branch
2. The Ashes of Eagles
3. Stockhold Syndrome
5. The Anti-Capitalistic Mentality
6. Every Day (I Wake Up)
7. Mon River Flow
8. Love Hate Relationship
9. What’s the Point?
10. Prelude to a Revolution
12. Yea Right
14. Blood (On Your Loafers)
16. Law and Order
18. The Rub
20. Memorial Day (Interlude)
21. The Human Cost