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Procussions - 5 Sparrows for 2 Cents (US version)

Release:5 Sparrows for 2 Cents (US version)
5 Sparrows for 2 Cents (US version)
(what is this?) / 22 users have this
Media:[Audio CD] [7/12inch Vinyl]
Recordlabel:Rawkus Entertainment
Info:The album is released on May 30th, 2006.
The double vinyl album misses track 1 and 17.

1. Opening Meditation
2. Shabach
3. Anybody
4. Simple Song - featuring DJ Vajra
5. Fight Here - featuring Afrobot and Ahmad
6. Miss January - featuring Talib Kweli
7. The Storm
8. Rain Dance
9. I'll Fly - featuring Tara Ellis
10. Untitled
11. Little People
12. Carousel
13. For The Camera
14. Vader March
15. Jiminy Cricket
16. American Fado - featuring Rennee Alston
17. Mars
Rating:Our users rated this release: 8.7 out of 10
(Number of votes: 3)   Sign up or login to submit your vote

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Original author/source
Review:The Procussions have been moving. A few years ago, they were an unknown hip-hop group in Colorado Springs, CO. They put out their strong debut, ...As Iron Sharpens Iron, and not enough people listened. I thought the Christian backpacker routine they did at the time wasn’t marketable, but apparently those with the right ears have heard, because now the trio is set to bring Rawkus back to life. For the new disc, 5 Sparrows for 2 Cents, the group's kept the spiritual (but restrained) attitude, but re-vamped the production from throwback to throwdown, lessening the jazz influences in favor of a harder sound. Everything is more reckless this time out, and the more the group veers toward chaos, the better they sound.

Even so, the Procussions know that life is a struggle in the midst of chaos, and they want to help the members of their community move with purpose, even if that means staying still. First single "The Storm" announces it: "My people, you hear the rain coming? / You gonna stand fast or just keep running?" The three MCs spin the track's metaphor around until you can't be sure if the battles take place over progressive politics, vapid pop culture, or the warfare of Ephesians. The group's approach could be boiled down to one line: "Rebel music for my people who've been swimming upstream." As Iron suggested conflict with its title, but 5 Sparrows is part of conflict.

Fortunately, the trio know enough to keep the party alive. "The Storm" precedes "Rain Dance," an electro-influenced number meant solely to shoot down inhibitions and turn the dancers loose. Stro's production builds around a simple 808 riff, using drums to bounce around the groove as Mr. J. Medeiros periodically screams at us through the track. The group uses the same sort of juxtaposition later when they place "Track 10" right before "Little People." The former mocks the vacuity of pop music ("this is the track where we rap about this, about that, and material crap") before indulging in more playful childishness and even nap resistance. Just as it seems like the kids are in charge, the Procussions deliver "Little People," encouraging you to dance until you catch lyrics about the cause and effects of child abuse and negligence.

Know this: dancing is an important way to combat evil. If it sounds silly, dance harder.

The driving "For the Camera" takes on the pursuit of stardom and our culture's fascination with the visual (with its resultant objectification of young girls). Even in the middle of the discussion, the Procussions use the object of their critique for some clever wordplay: "Folks are chasing stars while they throw away their wonder years / It's savage." The humor doesn't detract from the message—we "turn our women into mannequins"—or the solution (knowing "you're beautiful without the camera on").

I might be getting a little heavy, but the Procussions have important things to say, and they aren't slowing down. The youth prostitution track "American Fado" (I said it wasn't getting lighter) even brings on Renee Altson, the author of the abuse memoir Stumbling Toward Faith, when "there were no more prayers." Down low enough? Then just skip ahead to the emotional lift-off of "Mars." Forget it all and focus on the flute and the wah-guitar and do that little boogie you save for when you're home alone.

The Procussions have a religion and they have some messages, but they don't proselytize and they don't sermonize—they lay out narrative instead of instruction. They want to party and they want to scream and they want you to fight and they want you to get down and get lifted. They're going off in whatever directions their needs lead them, making 5 Sparrows a complex and engaging work. And those directions have the added benefit of being able to keep you moving.


Reviewed by: Justin Cober-Lake
Reviewed on: 2006-06-06
source: stylusmagazine.com, added: Jul 13, 2006
Review:**1/2 of 5

Under the rap section of an online music store I frequent, I was recently surprised by a new sub-category titled "conscious rap." The artists thrown into this section come in a variety of political styles. From the more overt-militant radicalisms of groups such as the Coup and Paris, to the warm and fuzzy gender politics of Common, the artists have their own representational strategies for conveying their brand of politics: some use guns, some use threesomes. For Mr. J Medeiros, Rez, and Stro the 89th Key, together known as the Procussions, politics is far from the sign-waving protest parades of Public Enemy or, say, Jadakiss. Instead, on 5 Sparrows for 2 Cents, the Procussions urge people to adopt more moral cultural values.

Although hailing from Colorado Springs, Colorado (maybe best known for being the setting for the Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman television series), the Procussions aren't stylistically provincial. The group's playful tru-skool polyphonic harmonies recall throwback groups such as Jurassic 5, Pharcyde and even older acts such as the Treacherous Three. Musically, this is a blend of live jazz instrumentation with soul and funk aesthetics (imagine the Roots meets Tribe Called Quest circa pre-Jay Dee production). Content-wise, however, the general political themes are vaguely reminiscent of Bill Cosby's recent social critiques. Known to be "Christian rap," the members of the Procussions are far from proselytizing. Yet these religious inflections are unavoidable in their brand of social commentary.

For a group that claims to make "rebel music," the album's political standpoint might seem rather conservative to liberal camps that seek institutional change. On "I'll Fly," Medeiros opens with "You gotta break through this monotony/ material monopoly/ the modern day idolatry philosophy./ People putting faith in a lottery/ … Who walks on top of the sea?/ It's not me." Cliché didactics and universal humanisms continue on "Little People," "Jiminy Crickett" and "American Fado." Touching on topics such as poverty, homelessness and sexism, the trio reduces "the system" to an ambiguous and agent-less monster where victimized people fall between the cracks because they choose the wrong values to live by, or as if their problems are a natural situation of unfair life chances.

They offer thoughtful poetics ("If you want the flower to bloom/ you gotta put it out in the rain/ …When it rains, we all get wet"), but labeling these tracks as "feel-good" is accurate largely because the music isn't unsettling. "The Storm," featuring aggressive kicks, claps and guitar licks a la Just Blaze, epitomizes the group's thematic banalities: "I was born in a violent storm/ in an endless fight between right and wrong." Although the collaboration with Talib Kweli works wonderfully on "Miss January," the Procussions' generic anthems about positive living need to be left for the after-school specials.

by Brian Su-Jen Chung
source: prefixmag.com, added: Jul 13, 2006
Review:****** of 10

Competent. If I had to write this review with only one word, it would be “competent”. Nothing more.

Remember when Rawkus Records had the great hip-hop music with substance? Company Flow, Black Star, Pharaohe Monch? The Procussions do, and they use this to their advantage. “Rawkus went against the grain… they signed MCs who pushed the musical envelope,” they say on their website.”... Rawkus is back on the scene to push The Procussions into the forefront.” They try their very best to fulfill the impressive legacy: their lyrics are conscious without coming across as overly preachy, and the in-house production from Stro does carry its own distinctive sound. But as their latest release (and first on Rawkus) 5 Sparrows for 2 Cents, demonstrates, the problem remains that the Procussions are—wait for it—simply, sadly, boring.

Let’s start with the production. Stro is a competent producer, making solid vibes of beats that each have their own individual feel but retain the essence of his overarching style. “Miss January” is a lightly poppy guitar beat, “The Storm” is heavier electric guitars and squealing high-pitched electronic noise, “Carousel” puts the guitars in chaotic reverse before proceeding to add warbly synths and fuzz. But just like everything else with the Procussions, while the production is skilled and solid, it’s hardly memorable. None of these beats will stick in your head, and their overtly-poppy, Black-Eyed-Peas-lite flavor ends up feeling like somewhat of a disappointment coming from the new flag-bearers of what was once the home of so much dusty, underground boom-bap.

The MCs here are even less interesting. They flow decently but are, once again, completely indistinguishable from the legions of other merely “good” rappers. They have a generally positive message, just like all those other neo-soul head-bobbers, and they seem like they enjoy what they’re doing, judging from their easy enthusiasm. Hell, I wouldn’t mind letting any one of them date my daughter. On the other hand, I could not find any truly memorable quotes to include in this review. None. This is not remarkably uncommon, but neither is it a good sign at all.

They can do some things impressively; the track “Little People” is a highlight, rappers Rez and Mr. J. Medeiros doing some of their best work for the album over a strongly atmospheric beat with high-pitched sampling from Stro. It holds promise, but not enough to justify the rest of the songs here. Songs that don’t go wrong, that make no mistakes, but at the same time perfectly self-efface—which is fatal, especially for a group with this much slick financial backing (see the elaborately stylish album artwork). It took so many listens to write this review precisely because, after each spin of the album, I could remember so little of distinct interest.

The Procussions are entirely harmless, and there’s no doubt that what they’re doing is healthier than any number of the poison-mouthed studio gangstas flooding traditional media outlets. Is it so bad to be unexceptional, then? In a world with so many beautifully idiosyncratic, interesting artists suffering below the surface without the attention they deserve, the answer for music fans is yes.

by Michael Frauenhofer
source: popmatters.com, added: Jul 13, 2006
Review:Backpackers everywhere unite, because the prodigal label, Rawkus, has returned. The same label that helped launch the careers of Talib Kweli and Mos Def is back with the the Procussions and the release of their album 5 Sparrows For 2 Cents (Rawkus). Hailing from Colorado Springs and now repping LA, the group is not like your typical underground New York MCs that spawned their aforementioned label home. However, change may good for the razor logo, because the Procussion’s debut is a solid start for the new old label.

After listening to the album, its hard not to compare the Procussions to Jurassic 5, albeit with a touch of the Beastie Boys. Mr. J. Medeiros, Stro and Rez are not going to beat Jay-Z or Canibus with battle rhymes, but their style is pleasantly effective and works well with Stro’s percussion heavy production. The lead single, “The Storm”, is energetic and full of J5esque rhymes, with Mr. J. Medeiros’ (think Zach De La Rocha) vocals giving the hook that extra something to keep listeners hyped. Songs like “Shabach”, “Anybody”, and “Rain Dance” demonstrate the Procussions at their best with lively beats and no frills lyrics.

When the group veers from that sound, the album becomes a little hit or miss. On the hit side, “Little People”, is a sentimental song about parents and their failure to pay attention to their children. However, “Carousel” is a song that misses with disjointed PE rhymes mixed with corny carnival sounds and a lazy hook. In between the hit and miss, first generation Rawkus member, Talib Kweli, comes through on “Miss January” a song about lost loves accompanied by Stro’s brilliant guitar and sample loops. Sadly Kweli is not at his best and Medeiros’ lyrics sound a little contrived, with lines like “True I grew from the pain and the days where I’d pay anything / Standing there like John Cusak in Say Anything”.

Fans clamoring for the return of Rawkus Records should be pleasantly surprised by the debut of the Procussions and their refreshing sound. Just don’t hold your breath if you are waiting for the next Black Star.

Rating: *** of 5
Reviewed by: Angus Crawford
source: Allhiphop.com, added: Jul 13, 2006
Review:Written by Ahnon Knomis
Tuesday, 01 August 2006

The Procussions - 5 Sparrows for 2 Cents
(Rawkus Records)

What do you get if you took Zack de la Rocha of Rage Against The Machine, added him to the mid 90's Tribe Called Quest line-up of emcee's and vibe, plus ?st Love from The Roots crew? Answer? The Procussions. Something different but at the same time familiar. Rooted with inspiration from what was good about the golden era of hip-hop with a modern twist.

It's kind of ironic that I come to review this album from the perspective of the rest of those whom are unfamiliar with The Procussions music. I had to ask myself if this is a positive or negative? The conclusion, I can honestly say I think is that this is a good point of view. An un-biased review of an established group from a fresh perspective. Also, for most of the secular hip-hop fans out there that never followed this niche Christian hip-hop underground scene this IS their introduction to The Procussions music. So this review comes to you not from the perspective of a long time fan of the group, but instead how the rest of the world might perceive the group's mainstream introduction. Very unique.

This album is under license to the world renowned Rawkus Records whom helped define the underground hip-hop scene in the mid 90's and brought you artists such as Talib Kweli & Mos Def individually (also together as Black Star), Pharoahe Monch, DJ Hi-Tek, Big L, and a host of other notable alumni. Through this release comes a rebirth of the label in 2006 and a new release in "5 Sparrows for 2 Cents" by none other than The Procussions.

With a push from Rawkus and a unique energetic live set, The Procussions offers something refreshing to the hip-hop scene. With Roots-esq qualities in that their organic beats (produced by Stro "the 89th key"; a studied musician and emcee himself) and two other emcee's (Mr. J & Rez) who possess a gift for mic control and clever punch lines that offer something left to ponder when the music stops.

Its apparent to me that The Procussions are on another level of creative effectiveness than normal hip-hop acts. Almost to the point as if it seams they are among a new breed of hip-hop groups emerging these days. From a mainstream perspective (one striving to acheive the goal of acceptance from a mainstream audience and give fans positive music they can enjoy light heartedly) and from a Christian perspective (dropping spiritually insightful lines that plant seeds of faith through life experiences in rhyme form based on Biblical morals and relevant edification of God)... This is a unique release for both cultures within the hip-hop medium. It also proves that the two can coincide and be acceptable to the masses.

The Procussions is arguably among the only 2 Christian hip-hop artists to successfully cross over to the mainstream and not compromise their music. The second being Mars ill who also has achieved cross over appeal although has never had the backing of a label with as much reputation and pull as Rawkus has. I say this not to undermine anyone whom may have also crossed over. Yet, to the best of my knowledge and opinion I have not seen another group gain this much respect and acceptance in such a short amount of time with just cause and quality in their project. Even as I write this review The Procussions are the current "Single of the Week" on Apple iTunes as the single "The Storm" is currently available thru free download to millions of iTunes patrons all over the world. A feet no other Christian hip-hop act has reached to date.

Okay, enough about the state of the music industry what about the music?

Like I said... this is the first time I have ever heard The Procussions so this is my introduction to the group. Being unfamiliar with their sound I was unsure of what to expect. However, being familiar with Rawkus Records and their certain criteria for music I had a basic idea that this would not be some superficial hip-hop lyrics over crunk keyboard beats.

I was plesantly greated with some quality tunes.

The first single hit my ear, "Miss January" which features none other than Talib Kweli. Now Talib's verse seamed heavily edited to me. This may have been to keep the lyrics clear of an explicit sticker but it was pretty blatantly edited and ironically not half as good as the groups verses on the song. Smooth jazzy guitar licks and a nice cold bass line flow like a pitcher of sweet southern style tea over ice cubes into a glass on a hot summer day. Refreshing lyrics that have some great visuals on a feel good vibe wet your pallette. A summer anthem at a perfect time for release contrasting to what's out right now and a world above. Great song. Great vibe.

"Miss January" has been on heavy rotation in my cd player with lines like "...standing there like John Cusak from Say Anything" and "there was so many things... there was so many signs... now I'm chasing wings... knowing its a waste of time... until my God reminds me of what I truly need". If you can't figure it out by those lines "Miss January" is a song about relationships, heartbreaks, and love. It's a fitting single with a notable feature emcee that un-doubtably caught some eyes from Kweli's presance on the track and then some ears to introduce the group to a new audience and prepare these new fans for a follow-up hit.

The follow-up single comes in the form of "The Storm". Backed by a very cool video which made its rounds across the internet intelligently marketed before the album ever hit stores. "The Storm" hits with hard kicks and piercing snares that are beautifully arranged with stellar samples that are hard to describe but are high in energy. The bass line in this song is crazy! Hard hitting and it doesn't let up. The song never gets monotonous, and accentuates lyrics that stick in your head. Lyrics like "I was born in a violent storm, in an endless fight between right and wrong. I write songs like letters to war. Stuff a message in a bottle then I send it to shore." and "Rebel music from my people who've been swimmin up stream. Some things are not what they seam. Who you thought was the peasant... might just be the king!". This is un-doubtably a battle song. No killing of emcee's here though. Their weaponry is word play and their battle is against struggles of life with words to uplift and encourage you to keep on moving and not give up the fight. A breath of fresh air in hip-hop and a good message for those who are down and out.

There are a few spots on the album that were a bit experimental that I really didn't think fit the level of the other songs. One of these songs was "Anybody" that had a yelling chorus and an awkward break down between verses that didn't feel right to me. The beat was also a bit strange and reminded me of an old 90's club song that had the synth sound of a baritone frog-like voice as the bass line. While this track will find its way to appease fans of experimental hip-hop I personally felt like this was one of the weaker tracks on the album. There are a few of these experimental songs spread through-out the album but with enough strong songs in-between they were more interesting to me than annoying. But bordering on nuisance none-the-less.

Two songs stood out to me as similar concept songs that although the message was clear, the music at times didn't quite work and seamed awkward. "Carousel" plays out as a song about the current state of hip-hop and being in the whirl-wind business of the music industry. The verses here were well crafted and the message was delivered but the chorus break downs which had the odd music of an actual carousel followed by the screaming of "Get me off this thing!!" although clever just seamed a bit forced and awkward. The other similar song "For The Camera" had a solid drum kit and deep oboe line below the simple rifts and was a great beat. Again, the message was delivered well and spoke on the superficiality of fame as well as video girls and exploitation of sex in the media. The chorus however again seamed like "Carousel" awkward and a bit forced. Both songs fit a similar formula but neither one were quite on the level as the rest of the album as a whole.

5 Sparrows for 2 Cents touches on several issues of topic, one of which was family. The song "Little People" features a sped up vocal sample that sounds like a child's voice which un-doubtably inspired the words of the song. Lyrically "Little People" spoke from a 3rd party and a child's perspective to parents about how their parental neglect has affected the lives of their children. The songs lyrics plead with parents for the conscious effort of love and affection and the paying of more attention to the way our children are raised. Its has some touching words that any parent hearing it will do a self evaluation of their own family situation which is ultimately the goal of the song to begin with. A chorus like "Hear me, See me, Do you even know I'm still breathing? I listen to the sounds of a TV. The only thing that really wants to reach me. Daddy listen, Mommy please, There must be a better way to raise me! I'm yelling til my ears can't hear me. Into a silence that kills me." Some gripping stuff.

There's plenty of laid back funk to ride to on a summer day in the car with the windows down and feel good about. But there's also some deeper tracks too. One of the best songs on the album comes from one of the last on the album. The song "American Fado" is a story song. Without ruining the ending for you I'll give you a taste of the story. Its features a solo performance by Mr. J telling his touching story of a girl on the streets whom he has befriended and who falls victim to some violence that has nobody willing to help her but him. This unlikely new friend ends up being the last person she sees before the lights dim in her life. Everything that leads up to this point draws you into the story and breaks your heart... but nothing could have prepared me for the end of the song and the final words spoken. A twist in the story that I never seen coming. But you will need to pay close attention to the lyrics in the song. They all come together in the end. Several repeats and you'll find new meaning in the lyrics like replaying a movie will do. Its songs like this one that stick with you for life. The extended portion of the track leads you out on a deep note and really pulls at the heart strings. The visual imagery thru this song is amazing and completely catches you off guard from the rest of the album. A good way to end a project.

The Procussions has a new fan as a result of listening to 5 Sparrows for 2 Cents. My advice is to pick this up now. Show your support for quality music and tell a friend or two to do the same. This one is an instant classic!

For fans of: A Tribe Called Quest, The Roots, LA Symphony, Pigeon John, LightHeaded, Sivion, Braille, Ohmega Watts

4.5 of 5 stars
source: Sphereofhiphop.com, added: Aug 12, 2006
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