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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

Their Perception is Our Reality

Their Perception is Our Reality

Let me be the first to admit I know next to nothing about hip-hop. That being said, I know gold when I hear it, and Boston-based hip-hop group The Perceptionists is it. Their 2005 disc, Black Dialogue, has all the makings of a star disc: the break beats, smooth rap, dope lyrics and righteous rhythms. The disc flows naturally from one track to the next, and even got my scrawny white butt grooving. In fact, the grooves are so good, my whole body started moving.

The Perceptionists is a trio made up of Mr. Lif, Akrobatik and DJ Fakts One. The trio have been working together as far back as 1997, with DJ Fakts One doing the cuts for Lif’s single “Electro,” and Lif lending vocals to Akrobatik’s 1998 b-side “Fat S-t.” In fact, the liner notes of Lif’s 2000 song “Avenger” read: “Akrobatik and Mr. Lif combine to form The Perceptionists.” But it took until 2005 to come up with their debut, Black Dialogue, released on New York label Definitive Jux.

Although all three rappers had solo careers, releasing albums with Definitive Jux and Coup D’Etat labels, they blend seamlessly into a tight group. Definitive Jux’s Web site describes them as “three brothers from other mothers,” hailing their close working relationship: “[The Perceptionists] have been to different continents together, blown up each other’s cell phones to get to airports on time, shared bad fast food meals at truck stops. Truth be told: road warriors have bonds that are stronger than studio associates will ever know about.”

The album is totally real, without an ounce of pretense. Two tracks that stand out are “Black Dialogue” and a righteous rant against our current president, George W. Bush, and the lack of weapons of mass destruction is Iraq, “Memorial Day.”

The title track is a scorching diatribe against selling out, a shout-out to African-American cultural leaders of the past and present, and a hymn to the power of hip-hop culture: “Yo, Martin and Malcolm knew it / Black dialogue / Grandma Moses drew it / Black dialogue / Stevie Wonder seen it / Black dialogue / Many games to steam with / Black dialogue / Chuck D took a stand for / Black dialogue … The whole world is after / Black dialogue.” “Memorial Day” takes the position of supporting American troops, but cussing out leaders, mostly white ones, who sent them to die for a lie.

Rounding out the album, “Love Letters” and “Breathe In The Sun” are two soulful and plaintive love songs, told with a hip-hop sensibility. With this black dialogue, The Perceptionists have created a set of songs that leave listeners with something new to think about on every listen. Whether they’re tackling institutional racism, sociopolitical issues, or just shooting it about love and life in some Jamaica Plain living room, each track is a massively mind-bending groove. Sometimes they’re angry. Sometimes they’re heartsick and soulful. Sometimes they’re comedic. But each time they spit out the good stuff. The Perceptionists are an auditory wonder.