Sunday, October 25, 2015

Album Review: A South Bronx Tale by A.B.E.

Ah, good ol' A-B-E.

As a 2nd time around through the blog, I should probably recap his amazing single that was posted on here almost 3 years ago. Since then, Abe The Profit has made a name for himself. He started a crowdfunding campaign, working with a grammy nominated producer, and toured with a supergroup known as the The Peace Poets. This is but only a few stories of the self proclaimed prophet.

The man (through the last encounter as I remember) had an amazing knack for telling deeply moving stories that shook your foundation as a human being. His words were clear imagery. Tales of being bullied, stuck in hard financial times, or struggling with the goals you hold deepest in your heart can relate to nearly all of us. It's the real world situations you hear in the bars that convey the deepest vulnerabilities of the artist. It's more than another hip hop album: It's a testimony, a confession, and a memoir.

"Like Dat"

Opening on a high note, we are seated in a NYC subway with no named destination next to some preaching passengers while waiting for locomotion. A couple piano chords make their way while the developing strings rise and short stories of childhood crop up. Abe channels his frustrations and concerns with his earlier life discussing in detail how he was bullied. It's not just about the action in this story, it's about the future it caused. He finishes off one of phrases like this: "Guess what I grew up b***h, to be kinda like an athiest...but occasionally I pray for a hell to put you kids. Light up the stove, tell Satan to blaze you in."

It's dark, it's raw, and it's only the first 1:30 mins in. He goes on to explain his splitting family issues, suicidal thoughts, and monetary dilemmas. The song, explains line by line, how you can't possibly know someone from a first impression by illustrating his own history.

"For The Kids"

Bustling in with a little bit more swing, this song is for the kids (I dunno if it's actually for the kids). Abraham asks you to question what you know referencing Christopher Columbus as a mass murder and Obama as a shady lawmaker. It's a bold step for the first 40 seconds of the song, but, it's downright catchy; it doesn't stop there. He goes on to talk about social slang through the eras and takes a stance on the jailing system. It's chalk full of good advice, such as "do the right thing even when nobody lookin'" and "get drunk, smoke a fatty, forget everything you learned..."

I'd play this for my kids.


Ever feel like that one person observing the room, rather than just enjoying the moment? An aching feeling like you're set apart from your peers and family? That one person being spotlighted on a dark stage? A-B-E touches the heart strings with a groovin' yet more depressive beat this time and it's odd considering the last track was so upbeat. There's a range to be noticed here. Both the dark and the light moods being represented. Sometimes it's the lyrics, sometimes it's just the composition but at some point I've felt pretty connected to this album.

"Memory Lane"

Don't know if this was intended but this tune is reminiscent of 90's west coast hip hop. Different from the rest of the album so far, this track feels like something you'd listen to on a highway coast drive however, as heard from the lyrics, "...growin' up in the gutter bring, if you had nice rings you had to watch for bloods 'n crips. They jack kids for sneakers and jackets..."

Not to be a narcissist but most times, you remember the bad times easier than you remember the good times. It's much easier to criticize someone than to praise them. You remember those things. They get stored somewhere in your brain and who knows what can trigger it. I guess that's the memory lane. Remember this album is basically designed to be an autobiography.

"Where I'm At"

Being real is where it's at, I'll answer that question right off the bat. As a music artist, observing other music artists on a medium where I can listen to various artists around the world and write about them: You can tell who really wants the, the whole album's concept to make sense and tell an vivid story to the listener. At the beginning of the song he goes into a "call and answer" phrase between an older rapper and a millenial. The two collide and ultimately, there's no answer. It's the story of someone who's gone through hardships and someone who was born with a silver spoon.

(That subway as a running gag is actually quite hilarious.)

"If I Die"

You know how I was saying this album is a confession? This song embodies that.  From the beginning we hear an emotional phone call. The crackles add all the more intensity as the piano swells in. Soon enough, we hear Abe talking about his family, all the best of memories and them being the influences that now personify him. His friends and crew are all added. Like someone who just won a grammy, all of the people on that list are now here. This is a giant thank you note to his loved ones and cherishing those who are currently in his life.

Just recently I spoke to A-B-E about the beginning of the song, and what special meaning the voice clip had: "So that was actually my younger brother's voice. He left a voice message for my mom, greeting her and asking her for her blessing. He says that he heard she wanted to speak with him, and that he was home now so she could give him a call back when she got a chance. He finishes by saying he loves her and says good-bye."

"Real Wit Yaself"

As I've already covered this song, I'll just put a link to my earlier review. Always liked this song quite a lot.

"Getting Twisty"

You're in a club, the women are on the pounce, you pregame with some Jim Beam and you are turnt up. As the party club tune of the bunch, this song lets loose and the game changes. No longer are you in the middle of a childhood memory or in a troublesome bind. You're partying and chillin' with your friends, the harsh realities of life become faded and what was once negative turns positive. The drums, short vinyl scratches, and the electronic lead really remind me of Gin and Juice.

"Work It Out"

Breaking up is never easy. Both partners struggle and their ideals conflict. Sometimes you just gotta let it go and figure out a way to deal with your own problems on your own, for yourself. It's both parties fault or neither. More than that, it's about the social outcome, the family finding out, and maybe dealing with outward pressures by your peers and colleagues.

It's the "he says, she says" same ol' story, that leads to an inevitable decline in interest, which breaks the bonds to which both commit. The name of the game is compassion and forgiveness and having now been in a long distance relationship for 5 years now, the struggle is real. It's a mixture of missing, longing for, and growing together across 8,500 miles of land between us. This song tugs the heart strings for those who've been in, are currently in, or are longing for a mysterious significant other. I recommend it.

"Speak My Truth"

Sax, rhodes, 'n claps. As one of the more jazzier jams in the bunch, the song acts as a 2nd confessional moment in this album. He puts out his heartfelt feels towards his youthful years with pride and positive reinforcement. From all the things mentioned in "Like Dat", this feels like the opposite. It's just as much of a story but with happy endings. Instead of suicide, he has something to live for. Instead of leading those on a dark path, he becomes an embodiment of the light. Unlike infomercial televangelists, Abe spreads his faith to lift up those beneath him. I really like when rap is positive like this, it's something I'd be able to show just about anyone. Some people like crunk, some people like gangsta but with the vibes A-B-E is putting out, it's like the Nintendo Wii: It's for everyone.

"Chocolate Pomegranate"

If "Work It Out" was the ending of a relationship, then "Chocolate Pomegranate" represents its initiation. "You make life feel like it could never be painful..." The saying love is blind, isn't far from the truth: You don't truly know the feelings past what your hormones tell you in the beginning. It takes time to know someone. The song tip toes around the points of love from the start, and by the end it's as if years have passed and the relationship became solidified.

"No Better Feeling"

The ending to all great stories need an anthem. Like the 80's music montages in Rocky, Abe emphasizes his accomplishments, pushing past the obstacles that have pinned him down. I wonder if this was actually the last song produced on the album. In one of the messages he sent me, he said this: "...I wrote most of the album in a couple months, but it took about 3 years to raise all the money to register the trademark, purchase all the instrumentals, copyright, & all that jazz."

More than the rest of the album, this song conveys a sense of relief. A goal that's been accomplished, a person who's made amends, someone who made it somewhere and surpassed expectations, beating bullies who were pretenders.

"A South Bronx Tale" is an in-depth look into the life of an artist. Being from the city, making his way up the chains of command in the realm of hip hop couldn't have been harder yet, A-B-E's verbal assault of moral payloads within each beat never ceases to amaze me. It's inspiring to see how far the man has come since we last spoke. I couldn't believe it'd be 3 years since last hearing from him.

We all grow up. We all gather new experiences and sometimes it's necessary to "archive" the old ones. Otherwise, you just become overloaded and congested. Abe did an amazing job telling a story of his own; whether it was the good or the bad that came with maturity, there was passion behind it. The drive to make music equaled his joy of life.

This album releases on Nov 13th. Find out more here and join in for the launch party:

I give this album a 9.8 out of 10.

Thanks for reading.

- DjjD

Abraham Velazquez | A-B-E | Abe The Profit:


The Peace Poets:


Mixing and Mastering Done By: Mikaelin "Blue" Bluespruce
Edited By: Enmanuel "The Last Emcee" Candelario

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