Sometimes an artist creates a work because he needs to; sometimes he creates it because it is needed. Soulfire is an album for this moment in history. A reductive and debilitating national political climate coincided with a corresponding degeneration of commercial rap music. The level of discourse and debate became sterile and rancorous in many cultural, political, and academic domains. Events in my personal life reflected these trends as the public and private spheres became conflated and seemed to run in parallel. Yet, despite the urgency of this work, Soulfire also contains a poetic timelessness that transcends contemporary events and specific situations. The depth of meaning with which I composed the lyrics and music will hopefully be apparent to the close listener. Though perhaps this may seem too pretentious, I wanted to create the Ulysses of hip-hop albums - a work with so much meaning, allusion, and intertextuality that it can be studied in depth as a literary text. On the other hand, I strongly believe that the soul of the beat and fire of the delivery need not be sacrificed for such a project. There is no reason why 'underground' hip-hop cannot be musically engaging on a commercial level. Rather, the beats and flow must be a foremost consideration in the composition of this next generation of hip-hop. Let no one accuse us of relegating the core musicality and skills of hip-hop to the background in our pursuit of lyrical excellence. Hip-hop is an artform with the expressive potential of poetry, fiction, theater, and film all rolled into one. Similarly, hip-hop artists transcend racial, class, gender, national, and linguistic boundaries. Why not celebrate this diversity rather than continuing the pointless debate of 'authenticity'? Certain experiences will resonate more with different individuals in similar life locations, but this does not invalidate alternate renditions and interpretations. During my travels, I have witnessed hip-hop be a major unifying force for people whose religious and ethnic backgrounds should have made them mortal enemies. I have seen both the political potential and the callous appropriation of this artform that gives voice to both under-represented communities and corporate greed, to disaffected youth and violent misogyny, to artistic expression and reductive droning. Hip-hop is neither dead nor dying - like the diversity of literature, it has developed into a complex genre of music with numerous sub-categories. Why Soulfire? A combination of soulful singing (courtesy of Focus, Jewelz, and Lotus) and fire-laced raps (by DJ Decryption, including a guest appearance by Da'Ron), a blend of smooth melodies and blazing beats, a meeting of the romantic and the polemic. I hope that this project will provoke you to consider some part of your life in a new light. But at the very least, crank up the volume and get crunk to it. Your neighbors will thank you later. It's been four years in the making. My final request is that you listen to the lyrics. Peace, DJ Decryption November, 2006.
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