Dusted Reviews

Psalm One - Bio: Chemistry II

today features
reviews charts
labels writers
info donate

Search by Artist

Sign up here to receive weekly updates from Dusted

email address

Recent Reviews

Dusted Reviews

Artist: Psalm One

Album: Bio: Chemistry II

Label: Birthwrite

Review date: Mar. 17, 2005

It’s no surprise hip-hop is a genre dominated by men: rap music began with battle raps, expanded to sex and violence braggadocio in the mid-’80s, and as explicit material proved tremendously popular, the evolution of mainstream hip-hop towards the vapidly masculine sped along faster than you could stutter G-G-G-Unit. In the current state of hip-hop for female emcees then, with Lil’ Kim’s perjury trial proving more interesting than her music has been in years and Jean Grae the only well-known underground emcee with a XX chromosome, Chicago’s Psalm One merits attention. Recently signed to Rhymesayers, Psalm One’s upcoming The Death of Frequent Flyer is going to be one to watch if the promise of Bio: Chemistry II comes to fruition. (This is, of course, a roundabout way that on BC: II, the pieces don’t all fit.)

A reworked re-release of 2002’s Bio: Chemistry, BC: II is at its best when Psalm One works within that most forbidden of hip-hop emotions: vulnerability. “A Girl Named You” finds her reminiscing on being 10 years old, searching for a clean soul but unable to avoid “the lottery, the robbery, the margaritas, stop me please.” “Shotgun,” a gorgeously low-key jazzy Sm.Arson track, is the best of the new songs here, with Psalm actually pleading for a bit of friendly company in her car. “Think 2 Much (Remix)” might rock an Al Green sample a little too obvious to be enjoyed, but the uninspired track doesn’t detract from Psalm’s tightrope walk on introspection and intoxication (otherwise known as thinking too much and drinking too much).

Psalm has a way with a story rap (coming-of-age story “Life After Champaign County” and the hilarious plane crash tale “Turbulence [Fiji]” are album highlights) and speaks about love (“Don’t Let Me,” “Boldly Go”) with a sincerity few of her male counterparts can match. However, when she actually raps “one tequila, two tequila, three tequila, floor” on “Where’d You Come From?” the effect is no cleverer than the Spring Break t-shirt she swiped it from.

When she isn’t working within her strengths as an emcee more talented in personal revelation than punchlines and sheer verbal wit, the songs can be hit or miss, just like the record’s production. Polyphonic’s Conga-rockin’ “Dubblewood Pipe” is the only real standout of this mess of songs, unless lukewarm sped-up soul is your thing: Seandamon’s “Needs” and “Sugar” sound a lot like Kanye West’s newer material, in that they both ape older Kanye joints.

But although Bio: Chemistry II is not a vital record, or even a massive improvement over Bio: Chemistry, it may prove to be the sound of an artist finding her niche. Psalm One truly could be an outlet for a whole range of thoughts no one else is putting into hip-hop songs right now. At a time when “Candy Shop” is considered a rap love song, God only knows we need her.

By Josh Drimmer

Other Reviews of Psalm One

The Death of Frequent Flyer

Read More

View all articles by Josh Drimmer

Find out more about Birthwrite

©2002-2011 Dusted Magazine. All Rights Reserved.