By Trina Otero
dis·so·nance: noun – lack of agreement; especially : inconsistency between the beliefs one holds or between one’s actions and one’s beliefs
HUMAN, a conscious hip-hop artist from Indianapolis, Ind., released his EP album Dissonance today. What a clever title for his artwork. While I am inclined to appreciate music and feel its vibes, I am a writer at heart; therefore, I pay most of my attention to lyrics. HUMAN’s lyrics tell a story, like many other artists, but his story speaks of a journey full of mental, even spiritual, conflicts while he treks to find truth – within society and government, within religious beliefs, and within himself. Or at least, that is my interpretation of his music. Read more below for a detailed review of his album, track-by-track!
Some may think, Bosom Position…what the hell does that mean? I’m a religious scholar so I knew right away it was a Biblical reference to the “bosom of Abraham,” but it made me want to do some digging. Here is a quick glimpse of what this phrase means. The most common interpretation is that the bosom of Abraham is where the righteous wait, after they die, for Judgement Day. When I listen to this song, I perceive it as HUMAN talking about how complicated and delusional life is [“I’m in the matrix, I’m trying to wake up”] with choices that can seem beneficial or “right” but in reality they are only illusions [referring to his line about the devil lying to close a deal]. He seems to be confessing he has made some decisions in the past, and possibly in the present, that have led him astray and only caused more confusion within his life – “Life is such a gamble, like driving without brake lights.” He also seems to be holding onto some anger, you can feel it in his voice and it’s obvious with his lyrics when he speaks about there being no gain in life, puzzles remaining as riddles, and religion “fucking with” his vision. Although he claimed in the beginning of the song that life “is like cancer, we seem to die faster when we search for life’s answers,” he states towards the end of the song that he continues to search. He ends the song with this statement, “So please tell the self-righteous that I’m in the bosom position.” Which, in sum [to me], means basically, “Eff what anyone thinks, I realize that life, as many perceive it, is just an illusion and I know there is Truth out there somewhere, and I’m going to find it on my own – without the confusion from different religions. And I’ll be waiting for judgement in the end, just like everyone else, righteous or not.”
If you are not familiar with the Christian Bible, Hebrews 11:1 is a popular scripture about faith. This is my favorite track on the album. I think it is because of the whole package – the music, the mood, the story-telling lyrics, and his voice. He is angry. And angry might be an understatement. He sets the tone of the song and shows the world his mindset when he sings in a low voice, “I’m only human..,” which says to me, “I make mistakes, I’m not perfect.” Then, right away he jumps into explaining his thoughts – the lies he was fed, being victimized [by whom I don’t know] and his soul being in question. Then the profound statement comes, “Yea, I’m no expert. Guess it means I’m invisible, and even God doesn’t give a fuck about me so I guess that’s why I’m miserable. Nigga fuck your principles, put bullets in your dogma. Do I really reap what I sow, does it come back, is it really a karma? I wish my soul was calmer, but it’s so erratic, and my thoughts sporadic, like I’m a crack addict.” To the blind and closed-minded, the chorus that follows may seem offensive and “blasphemous,” but if you listen closely he is expressing his desire to know Truth [starting a revolution] and his frustration and struggle with his faith. “I made mistakes, I fucked up my life. I made a whole lot of mistakes no lie, I should know how I fucked my life. They say I need Christ, and his sacrifice, but every time I called him he never showed up, I should know I’ve called him twice. Maybe I should call some more, so he can set me free, but would it be a blasphemy if I didn’t pray to him but instead he prayed for me? I know that sounds crazy, a little off maybe, but you’re asking me to see a God in a place that I cannot see.” Again HUMAN mentions the concept of faith. And in his anger he declares he doesn’t need any church, synagogue or temple to search for God and “his Truth.” In summary, the title of the track is fitting for the song – it’s an expression of his struggle to search for Truth and to keep his faith. I can tell he has been in dark places mentally and emotionally, which is all the more reason for his anger. But although this song is very dark, I envision a glimmer of light [hope] because he still mentions, like he did in the first track Bosom Position, that he is searching.
This song is almost like an anthem for me. Again, his title choice is perfect. This song is about fighting for the Truth, and spreading it worldwide, no matter how hard the task may be. “Sometimes the Tree of Liberty has to be watered with the blood of tyrants and freedom fighters.” This statement sounds a bit extreme, but I understand it in a more metaphorical sense. Regardless of how you interpret that line, I think the emphasis lies within the fight we must pursue, the sometimes tiresome effort we must give in order to stand for what we believe in. They can try to kill the human spirit but it can never be destroyed. It always rises.” I really like this statement. HUMAN delves into some “conspiracy theories” revolving around the Illuminati and the deaths of hip-hop icons Tupac and Biggie; he states other famous artists [supposed members of the secret society] who will have to pay a price along with their souls being on display [showing their true nature]. “Conspiracy theory, who knows if it’s real, but I’m the author of my future and I choose to repeal.” I like this line because it holds authority, as if he is saying he is taking control of his life and of the knowledge he wishes to seek. “It’s not for the figures, my motive is bigger. I’ll Malcom X in this bitch, you feel me my nigga? Cause I die for the solution, it only takes a spark to start the revolution.” Just like human rights activist Malcom X, HUMAN is stating he wants to stand and represent Truth, and he is willing to die for the Truth. So as you can see, he expresses his desire to search for Truth in various aspects of his life, not just within religion. “Yo the most effective prison is a prison the prisoner doesn’t think exists, so that once he’s imprisoned, he’ll never see the need to break free.” This is a lyrical play on words to describe the matrix once again [think of the sci-fi movie The Matrix and the cyber world the people were brainwashed to believe was real]. HUMAN is stating that he is not dumb nor brainwashed, he feels a control system at play within our society – our education, our government, music, and even religion. “I realize they try to dehumanize, I’ma do what I can do, Da Trilogy weaponize……They say that knowledge is the ammunition, the recognition of a condition if we stay indignant.” Knowledge is key. Doing research on your own and searching for answers is very important, so that you can learn to think for yourself. That is what I believe HUMAN is trying to say. And he ends this conscious rap anthem with, “It is therefore imperative that we don’t let them win. Let’s choose to fight back.” Did this song get you riled up at all? Let me know what you think.
The beat in this track caught my attention once I hit play – it’s pretty dope. I know I didn’t mention anything about the beats or melodies from the previous tracks, and in no way does that mean they weren’t good. I actually like everything in this album, which is almost like a phenomenon because I am not a big fan of rap/hip-hop now-a-days. The energy in this beat is different from the previous songs, and that may be why it caught my attention. “I’m tryin’ to remain conscious, harder to stay conscious when you got cars and bitches and money in your subconscious. Being broke is so nauseous, used to living that nonsense, barely have enough money to buy that nigga a conscious…..I’m tired of the bootleg, sometimes I want real, fuck the ordinary, that’s how I feel. So should I take the oath?” Sounds like he is tired of struggling financially, he wants “the life” but when he has “that life” it’s harder for him to stay awake or “conscious.” The chorus sheds more light on this topic – the artists mention a red and blue pill, which is another reference to the sci-fi movie The Matrix. Red pill – open up to see Truth; Blue pill – stay in ignorance and believe what you are told. “Nigga what you mean we livin’ a lie? I’m trying to live over the limit like a DUI. Give me that life everybody ask for, I ain’t tryna live life wishin’ I could fast-forward” are the words of DoLa, which reiterates my guess that they are trying to choose which path to take. Seems to me they are saying music artists have choices to make – do you take “the oath” [blue pill] and buy into the game to have fame and fortune, or do you remain conscious [red pill] and aware that fame comes with a price tag?
Again, the energy in this track is much different than the first three tracks. It’s the type of song that makes you want to move, no lie, and I can see that his lyrics are different as well. I know he is referring to a state of mind when he says he’s on that “King Shit.” It is common for rap artists to have at least one track where they express their image, and to me, this is HUMAN’s “image track.” “I’m living refined, I was destined to shine, the human spirit of a king you can never confine.” He does weave in random, subtle hidden lines and words, but for the most part he is basically boasting, or testifying, about his current mindset. The only thing I didn’t care for was all the cursing. I’m not a prude and I actually curse like a sailor sometimes…..I dunno, maybe it’s because “shit” is repeated so many times, ha. Good track though!
After two songs with different tempos and energies, HUMAN returns to his deep form of expression. “Yea I run to the light, then I run from the light, and I don’t even wana fuckin’ fight so I do what’s wrong then I do what’s right.” This verse sums up the whole internal battle he’s been fighting [and expressing in this album]. Inconsistency. Disharmony. Incongruity. CONFLICT. His other tracks touched on his anger against what seems to be Christian religion, and his personal search for God and Truth; whereas, this track touches on the internal battle he is fighting within himself. “I’m livin’ through this dissonance, my wickedness is battling with my innocence.” He mentions the words “wrong” and “right” so this track symbolizes his awareness of his choices, the moral and immoral weight they have, and how he can’t stay consistent. “Damn tell me what the fuck am I doin’? I don’t have a clue what the fuck I’m doing?” “I don’t know what the fuck I’m gonna do about it, I don’t know where my soul is gonna go.” Although he expresses confusion, I think one key thing is that he is actually aware of the choices he is making and how his mind is distinguishing what is “right” and “wrong,” even if some of his choices are “wrong.” Awareness is the portal to self evolution, in my opinion.
“Fear is basically like a drug that once it enters your veins, it shows no mercy. You explode.” HUMAN says if exposed to fear it can “retard the growth of the human spirit and it can prepare you for complete and total, utter destruction.” He brings up a very important concept – fear, which is the opposite of love, is the root of all things negative, including hate. Human raps about having enemies, only to realize that his enemies were really within himself – “The fear in me had to die, but every time I tried to kill it that shit would just multiply.” He even admits he tried to blame other people for his mishaps and fears, but he realized he is responsible for himself. “I prayed everyday for the strength of Goliath so that I can shadow box Goliath, and I was able to acquire the power to walk out the fucking Watch Tower, so I know it can be done.” This is a profound statement – he prayed to have the strength of the beast to fight off the beast, which is the fear that resides within himself. The last part of that statement is also profound and it also answers some questions. For those that may not know what the Watch Tower is, it is the name for numerous organizations that publish and perform other duties for Jehovah’s Witnesses. Now that HUMAN has revealed he used to be a member of this religious organization, it makes sense to me why he mentioned in previous songs that he was lied to and victimized. And now I further understand his frustration and anger towards dogma. “It’s like I’m in the fourth quarter, last shot, I shoot it and choked…the devil’s like a con-boy, he hustles for ya to the masses like the local d-boy.” All these lines are his poetic expressions of what fear can feel like. He also takes another lyrical stab at Jehovah’s witnesses, in a subtle way, when he mentions his mother dying slowly but there is nothing he can do anymore. He said it is her own “woe” but at least he is grown and made his own choice to leave the organization. I wonder if he is also trying to say that the Watch Tower uses fear to control their members? That wouldn’t be a surprise. Religion is one of the many things that has been used to control the masses in the past and the present. “I want everyone to make a vow right fuckin’ now, that you’re not gonna fuckin’ give up! Fuck fear!” Even if this is a message directed towards his former co-members of the Watch Tower, this is still a good song with a profound message about fear itself. Fear destroys.
This is the last track on HUMAN’s EP album, and it may be another one of my favorites. After you listen to this song, you may think, “Damn, Trina must really like dark songs,” but the reason why I like this track is because it is so real. So intimate. HUMAN just has this rawness about him, and you can literally feel his words. Or at least I can. I don’t really need to interpret much of the lyrics. “He said he loved my soul, said I reminded him of someone from the old. And he thought I’d make a nice addition to the other fold, so he hastened his arrival from the deep dark abode.” Who do you think he is talking about? Another clue – “Cause when you were only two you only wanted this for you, the attention all the love, you only wanted that for you. When you didn’t get your way, all the selfish fits you threw. Then I knew if I started back then I could have you.” As scary as this sounds, this track seems to bring together a lot of concepts from the other songs, and everything comes to a pivotal moment for HUMAN. “I’ll make you legendary, just sign the dotted line. I’ll make you legendary, just sign your ass is mine.” HUMAN is aware of the dissonance that has been present within his mind and heart; he is aware of the choices he has to make as a music artist; and he is aware that he has been searching for some Truth to grasp onto. His response to the devil, “I said nah, you will never get my soul bitch,” shows HUMAN taking a stand for what he believes in [reference to Fight and Blue Fear]. “Did I happen to mention that I’m planning out your ascension? …Just sign the dotted line to fame, riches, and bitches” – to me these verses are parallel to the illusions of the matrix mentioned in some of his previous tracks and the “blue pill” option from the track The Oath. HUMAN has expressed his struggle to find meaning and Truth in life, but he seems to continue to hold onto some of his morals and beliefs. Something within him keeps him from agreeing to “take the oath.” He says, “And then I tried to explain what benefit to my soul if the whole world I gained? My salvation obtained, then I called on God’s name..” HUMAN still clings to the notion that there is a God or higher being, in my opinion, because he chose to call on God’s name in his dream to wake him up. So to me, I feel like this track shows his spiritual growth. Throughout the album I felt his confusion, anger, frustration, and even lack of faith. In this track he chose to deny the bribes of the devil in his dreams and call out for God to save him. He does mention his confusion about the dream towards the end of this track, which I think stems from his fear, but he made a conscious decision to protect his soul nevertheless.
So, you read my philosophical [and rather long] ramblings about HUMAN’s album [sorry?], but I’d like to know what you think! Feel free to leave comments below!