The Left is a three-man collective from Detroit that takes it back to an old school dynamic of having one MC, one producer and one DJ. Journalist, with his heavy voice and deep socially conscious rhymes, is the MC of the group. Apollo Brown, with his hard, grimy beats over soulful melodies, is behind the boards as the producer. DJ Soko, with his witty turntablism, acts as the group's DJ and puts it all together for a solid live show. "I think this dynamic is coming back, and it should come back," says Brown. "That's when you get your best albums with cohesiveness."
In these days of hip-hop music, there's a war going on against the shallow, watered-down music that's filtrating into the radio and mass media. It's groups like The Left, with their debut album Gas Mask, that choose to take another approach and do something true to them and the original purity of hip-hop culture. "As for a theme for this album, it's: do what you do. Don't conform," explains Brown. "Make the music you want to make. Stay true to yourself. Stay to the left while everyone else stays to the right."
The meaning behind the album's title, Gas Mask, is important. It's a call to arms against the musical decline of hip-hop. The Left mixes that classic 1990s midtempo, grimy hip-hop feel with meaningful rhymes set to spark the mind. "We called it Gas Mask because all this bullshit out here on the radio is toxic, and the gas mask is a device used to help you breathe through all that," describes Brown.
Through it all, The Left just want artists of any type to be themselves and not feel they have to go along with anything forced on them in the mass media. "I want people to get a little inspiration," says Brown. "Not just listeners, but other MCs, other groups and producers. Let them know that they don't have to conform to the things that everybody else is doing." | RDW
The Left: Gas Mask Release Party • 10/28, 9 p.m. • The Shelter • 431 E. Congress, Detroit • 313.961.6358 • $10