On Valentine’s Day, Syracuse-based hip-hop band Sophistafunk released Real Vibration, their newest collection of material, featuring seven high-quality cuts as well as their seven corresponding instrumentals. The trio, made up of keyboardist/bassist Adam Gold, drummer Emanuel Washington, and MC Jack Brown, have made a name for themselves in a live music scene that appreciates–though often doesn’t heavily feature–hip-hop by taking an eclectic approach to their music. Explains Brown, “Our style blends funk, soul, and jam music with East Coast hip-hop flows, which are known for wordplay, rhyme schemes, and lyricism. The music is about similar themes as Bob Marley, Stevie Wonder, Talib Kweli, and Rage Against the Machine, among others, and hopefully it inpires more people to get down with the message of peace and unity.”The group has kept busy over the past few years touring with funk and jam bands like The Motet, Orgone, EOTO and Dumpstaphunk, among others, helping cement themselves as a sort of “hip-hop band for the jam fan.” As Brown explains, “You know, back in the day on the northeast scene, you always had hip hop artists collaborating with the jam bands and funky musicians of the era. I think it’s because the positive, conscious message of underground hip hop has always resonated with the psychedelic music community. For example, there were groups like Granola Funk Express that spawned on the festival circuit and carried the torch for both movements. [Adam Gold] was a teenager going to the Wetlands in NYC around this time. Through the years over there you’d have The Roots playing downstairs, or Soulive, and so many others laying the foundation for what we now consider ‘jam,’ ‘live EDM,’ and ‘neo-soul’. Remember, the so-called ‘genres’ that people buy on the internet are not born independently. This was all happening at the same time, often in the same rooms, on the live music scene, which was – and still is – a living, breathing organism.”Real Vibration perfectly embodies Brown’s assessment of Sophistafunk’s unique sound, featuring seven tracks worth of blunt-ride beats and Internet-age paranoia and resistance. Funky protest track “Translucent” offers itself as a “musical solution to mass pollution,” with Brown delivering biting bars that evoke the style of heady underground MCs like Atmosphere‘s Slug. “This Life” sees Brown shine some light on the outfit’s musical DNA–part funk and jam, part beats and bars–as he proclaims “I love live music” over a 90s-style back beat.The socially conscious “No More War” dips into the chaotic paranoia of our social media society, as sparse funk interspersed with digital fills mirrors the chaos of today’s world, before well-placed horns bolster the song’s “we gotta love each other” refrain.“Make Em Clap” continues on the album’s conscious themes, as Brown proclaims, “I’m not a rapper, I’m an activist”–though lines like “esoteric eloquence/Still I stay relevant” show that there’s room for him to be a bit of both.“Duke of Errl” tells the saga of “dabs,” sampling sound bytes of TV news PSA’s warning parents about the perils of marijuana concentrates. Toking-up is far from an unusual topic in hip-hop, but few artists have hit the relatively new wax trend head-on like Sophistafunk does on this track. They approach the topic with equal parts enjoyment for its pros and restrained caution for its cons, with extra pep added by layered horn fills courtesy of Andy Frasco & The U.N.‘s Ernie Chang. Brown even earns extra “heady points” shouting out The Lot (“You can find me on Shakedown Street”).The album rounds out with title track “Real Vibration,” a slow jam laden with enthrallingly spacey synths. It serves as an appropriate coda for the LP: laid-back vibes, mindful rhymes, and THC-infused good times. Take a dab and press play. This is one session you definitely want to get down on.
Jailbreak… Police ID 3 more escapeesPublic Security Minister Khemraj Ramjattan late Wednesday night revealed that about 300 prisoners have been released following the massive fire which flattened the Georgetown Prison at Camp Street. He also stated that 85 convicted inmates have been relocated to the Mazaruni Prison in Region Seven (Cuyuni-Mazaruni).The Minister made those revelations in an interview with media operatives at the University of Guyana Turkeyen and Tain Talks at the Pegasus Hotel.The approximately 300 persons include those who have been granted bail for non-violent offences and prisoners who were scheduled for release in the months of July and August. The Minister said he invoked his extraordinary powers and granted those inmates early release since they would have displayed good behaviour for the duration of their sentences.Ramjattan further stated that more prisoners are expected to be released to ease overcrowding and make room for those displaced.“We will be going to the other prisons at Mazaruni, Lusignan and Timehri and see those prisoners who are scheduled to be released soon and if they display good behaviour, they will also be released, so we can transfer those (from Camp Street) to those facilities,” the Minister stated.Meanwhile, the Guyana Police Force has identified three more high-profile prisoners who have escaped from the Camp Street penitentiary during Sunday’s jailbreak.Police Commissioner Seelall Persaud on Tuesday confirmed to Guyana Times that a total of eight prisoners are on the run; at the time of the jailbreak, the identity of only three was made public, but the Police Force has since identified three others, and on Wednesday released their identities. They are: 24-year-old Desmond James of Hotoquai Creek, North West District; 32-year-old Cornelius Thomas of Lot 36 Guyhoc Gardens, Georgetown and of Trinidad & Tobago; and 26-year-old Cobena Stephens of Lot 82 Gope Street, Middle Walk, Buxton, ECD.The police have said these each of these three prisoners was in jail for the capital offence of murder, and are now additionally wanted for escaping from the Georgetown Prison on Sunday last, when the facility was set on fire.Police have already issued wanted bulletins for the alleged masterminds of the jailbreak — Mark Royden Durant, ex-cop Uree Varswyck, and Stafrei Hopkinson Alexander.Durant, also known as “Royden Williams” and “Smallie”, was jailed for both the gruesome Lusignan and Bartica massacres. The other two were also imprisoned for murder.The police are still to release the identities of two other prisoners that comprise the eight escapees on the run. In the meantime, a Joint Service Operation is currently being carried out in the backlands of East Bank and East Coast Demerara villages, as well as in the community of Buxton. “In an effort to recapture the prisoners, there is a joint patrol in the backlands,” Assistant Police Commissioner Clifton Hicken told the Guyana Times.And acting Director of Prisons, Gladwin Samuels, told the Government’s Information Hub on Wednesday that prison authorities are currently working to accurately inform the public about the prisoners as soon as possible.“I know that the media is seeking a lot of information as it relates to names of persons who have been transferred, who have been discharged, who are probably at large; we are currently working on compiling all of those lists, so that the information can be provided… We have several persons putting the pieces together,” he stated.Samuels added that, once completed, the information would be submitted to the Public Security Minister, who would in turn make it public. This information, the acting Director of Prisons noted, would bring some sense of relief to the public, especially in light of speculations that there are “many prisoners” at large following Sunday’s incident.Authorities revealed earlier in the week that some 1018 inmates were at the Camp Street facility at the time of the jailbreak. But there have been subsequent reports of that figure being 1090, 1110 and even 1144.When pressed further, however, to state what was the exact number of prisoners that were at the Camp Street Prison at the time of the incident, Commissioner Persaud posit, “I am interested in the ones that have escaped…we are trying to assist the prison in restoring order, and pursue those who have escaped and get them rearrested.”Sunday’s fire which flattened the Camp Street jail had served as a distraction for inmates to escape from prisons. In their bid to do so, several prison officers were brutally attacked, and have suffering from shotgun wounds and lacerations.In fact, one of the seven wounded officers, 33-year-old Odinga Wickham, succumbed to several gunshot wounds to the chest.