Asheru and Blue Black of the Unspoken Heard Soon Come

As members of the collective of MCs and spoken word artists known as the Unspoken Heard, Asheru and Blue Black have been releasing a number of uplifting hip-hop singles on the independent circuit for a number of years. Asheru, like fellow Seven Heads associate J-Live, is a teacher who is not averse to innovatively incorporating Fela Kuti and KRS-One into the classroom setting, as an MC, he prefers substance over style. "It's like 'say something, man!'" says Asheru, explaining his motivation to rhyme. "You've got everybody's attention, what are you gonna do?" With Asheru based in Maryland and Blue Black in New York, the group isn't trying to waste time on the mic when they get together, yet their approach is far from didactic and communicates just as much through the feel-good vibe of the album. On the bouncy house party feel of "Jamboree," the bonhomie is so tangible Asheru swears, "You can actually hear people smiling in the song." With production from DJ Spinna, 88 Keys, J. Rawls and Geology, to name a few, the duo have an embarrassment of sonic riches at their disposal that elevates their rhymes. On the previously released "Smiley (The Who, Who Song)," the duo go back and forth using a mockingbird rhyme technique, while on the bliss-inducing "Elevator Music," Blue Black's spontaneous intermittent rhymes bounce off the dreamy soundscape. "Everybody listens to our album and says it's a jazz-influenced album and I guess it is," says Asheru. "It's not like we were like 'we've gotta make a jazz-hop album.' It's just at that time that's how the producers expressed themselves and that's what we chose to do for our shit." Asheru's love and dedication to hip-hop runs deep. On "Dear You," he tells his lady love "But since you made my choose/Hip-hop is my lady/So I guess you lose." And while he waxes nostalgic over past eras, he is also eager to look ahead. "If they hear cats like us or Jurassic 5, cats'll be like 'y'all kinda remind me of Native Tongues.' I guess it is reminiscent of that, but it's progressing too. It's also changing into a different thing altogether." (7 Heads)