Rhymesayers vet I Self Devine continues his onslaught of new music with the second of four free mixtapes dropped at the front end of every month. The Upliftment Struggle was released on Soundcloud this week in anticipation of another 7th Street Entry takeover on February 19.
This mixtape features some impressive beats from notable local producers, save two tracks from Seattle beatmaker Vitamin D ("Fetti On Max" and "I Don't Know"). I Self sounds more comfortable over tracks by familiars like Benzilla, King Karnov and Noam the Drummer; the concepts and imagery are as tight as ever, but the hooks and flow fuse with the music better than on LA State of Mind. For neophyte Grieves fans who are being introduced to Chaka's work for the first time, this mixtape is probably a better start.
As always, the lyrics are stocked full of progressive politics, intensely personal perspectives, striking lines and unassumingly complex patterns. It's hard to find any rapper as consistently on point as I Self: Every line is well-crafted, spit with a 90's attention to tricky rhyming ("Cinematic, graphic / Tragic as a toddler tossed in traffic / Traumatic as an asthmatic collapsin'") but a modern eye to voicing and line impact ("I love her / It's a different type a love though / Addicted to the drama / Opposite of love jones"). It's even harder to find a free mixtape as back-to-front listenable as this is, until next month anyways.
Here's a video created by City Pages' own Rebecca McDonald:
Download The Upliftment Struggle for free here, or stream below:
I Self Devine will celebrate the release of The Upliftment Struggle at 7th St Entry with Ill Chemistry, Maria Isa, I.B.E., Plain Ol' Bill and Kool Akiem on February 19.