How Sound Affects...Below The Heavens


This month's contributor for "How Sound Affects" is music producer Maja7th. Maja7th's production credits include work with artists such as Killah Priest, Freddie Gibbbs and Dominique Larue. Maja7th has spent time living in Indiana, Chicago and Washington DC.

Every once and a while I engage in “Hip Hop” debates and have to listen to at least one soliloquy about how I only like "conscious" music. The IRONY is most of the times I end up in these conversations I’m being told this by people that have children, want them to brought up around positive images and love their kids unconditionally. If I mention that I don’t like a particular “Trap House” song because its regurgitating the same content or its lacking creativity, I’m deemed yet again…"conscious". There is a time and place for everything but are we at the club and shooting people 24/7? 

Blu and Exile’s Below The Heavens, to me, is a classic album and a masterpiece filled with life experiences that expand much further than being conscious. The stories of day to day tribulations and travail are truly incredible. Have we not all been there before?  A cohesive album doesn’t limit itself to content or big names or features. Classic albums just work! The production tells a story. The lyrics coincide with the tracks and the records are placed strategically like the engine in that model corvette you tried to put together with the strong smelling super glue. This can happen in any genre with any subject matter.


I remember living in Chicago and having one my best friends Kenneth “Pete Sayke” Cook call me a say “Dude have you heard Blu”?????? I had no idea who he was. Since my guy was a credible source we sat down and listened to the entire album front to back. I was blown away.

One minute you’re a baby and the next
you’re sexing without protection
and now your holding a baby...
Like damn, I was just in your shoes
now you’re the papa that’s adjusting they shoes.
Teach them to walk straight.
Cause honestly they got a long way to go,
and what you tell ‘em now is all that they know
— Blu from "In Rememberance of Me"

With songs like “In Remembrance” and “Cold Hearted” Blu raps about things in his life that biggest “D-Boy” can relate to.  This album is for the everyday person inside us all. This isn’t about the kid in the suburbs or the kid that grew up in the inner city on 69th and Ashland. This album is about life. The project really changed how I approach music, what I look for in albums that I listen to and the music I make personally. There are albums that alter your perspective and this is one of them. (*plays track 5 and smiles like James Evans Jr saying “IIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIII KNNNOOOOOOOOWWWWWW**)

- Maja7th                                                                                                           

How Sound Affects...(An ATLiens Post)



(Just for the sake of full disclosure...ATLiens by Outkast is my favorite Hip-Hop album ever. ATLiens, along with their next album Aquemini, I believe are the best pieces of art that Hip-Hop has to offer. I have spent nearly 20 years arguing with people online and in person about Outkast and ATLiens' standing in Hip-Hop. We can argue about that later. This post will mainly be about ATLiens' effect on me.) 


96 gon be that year...
— Antwon Patton


ATLiens changed my life. Released on August 27th, 1996, I did not know on that particular morning, that my life would be altered. I didn't know when I unwrapped the cassette and placed it into my walkman that my outlook on life, music and myself would change. A 16 year old boy, struggling with identity and confidence would be hurled 200mph into a whirlwind of freedom and self expression. 

I underwent a metamorphosis from, a nameless, faceless teen, spending countless amounts of money, time and energy trying to fit in, and buy the newest shoes, and hottest name brand clothes, to a literal outcast. I would come to school and see 3 different people wearing the same Ralph Lauren Polo shirt that I spent my entire check on, and wearing the same Grant Hill shoes and it was then that I discovered that I was just like everybody else...what I had tried so hard to be...and realized that I didn't WANT to be at all.

Outkast's debut album Southernplayalisticadillacmuzik came out of left field to take Hip-Hop by storm. And when you were expecting more cadillac music to bounce to, ATLiens, came from outer space. Everything from the music, to the album art (which included a 24-page comic strip), to the disc art (the glorious naked woman which was the Outkast signature), to the videos...all stand collectively as an artistic and creative cohesive vision. At 16 years old I had never heard anything like "13th Floor/Growing Old". I had never heard music so organic and so gritty. So mysterious and hypnotizing. It spoke to my soul. It said think different, think free...and express yourself freely. With this as my soundtrack I had the courage to be different. Be me. And no longer was I just a nameless, faceless random student among 2,000 others in my school. I soon became the "different one". For better or for worse, nothing was the same after ATLiens came...  


To this day, I've never smoked anything or taken any illegal drug and this verse is in large part why...

Softly, as if I played piano in the dark
Found a way to channel my anger now to embark
The world’s a stage and everybody’s got to play their part
God works in mysterious ways so when he starts
The job of speaking through us we be so sincere with this here
No drugs or alcohol so I can get the signal clear as day
Put my Glock away I got a stronger weapon
That never runs out of ammunition so I’m ready for war okay
— Andre Benjamin

Many music lovers have "that one album" that changed their thoughts, passions, self-esteem, interests, style of dress, etc. I've heard Lauryn Hill's The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill brought up many times. Wu-Tang Clan, Public Enemy, A Tribe Called Quest. 

For me...that "one album" was made by 2 Dope Boys in a Cadillac...

What was yours?