Biko Kennedy, Youthlink Writer
Album: War for Peace
Artiste: Five Steez (real name Peter Wright)
Genre: Hip hop/rap
Release date: August 21, 2012
I won't lie and say that I saw this coming. When I first heard of Five Steez and his Momentum Vol 1 Mixtape in 2010, just when the buzz around his career had started, I said to myself, "Here's another young local rapper with an interesting lyrical style, but [with] nothing particularly remarkable to talk about." I wasn't too far off, as the average local music listener also had no idea who he was.
As the years passed, however, not only has he improved his flow, but he has gathered a large enough following and revealed himself as the yardie-rap visionary. With every single he has released since, Steez has proven that he not only wants to change the negative stigma that surrounds local rappers but also to carry the sound of local rappers globally.
"There's a big difference between art and entertainment, and most artistes today aren't putting out anything of substance," Steez shared with me during our interview in 2011. "There's no real meaning behind their lyrical content apart from making a profit, and what you'll find is a lot of the sounds go for what is being played today not bearing in mind that five years from now, no one would want to listen to that particular sound."
Staying true to his beliefs, here comes his debut album, War for Peace. It's not just another socially conscious rant packaged as a rap compilation, but it serves as a manifesto, a philosophy that runs throughout the album, even when the material turns far more personal.
A prime example is Untold Stories. It details the fight for women to remain 'human' in a world dedicated to stripping away their individual humanity. You don't have to delve this far into War for Peace to enjoy it, but it's deep enough to dive all the way in if you're so inclined, and that's the beauty of the album. Each single stands so uniquely apart from the next yet, together, the musical journey has no speed bumps.
The album's downfall revolves around Steez's voice - its consistency dances along the boundaries of monotonous. Also, the track list doesn't play as a cohesive story. Nonetheless, though he has a long way to go before he'll be viewed in the same light as hip hop's greatest lyricists, he's well on his way.
"Everybody wants heaven in this hellhole/some of them get lost and sell their souls for a/piece of paper/can't even treat a neighbour/with respect unless he pay a fee a favour". - Rebel Music
"The system make us suffer on a daily basis/ funeral homes got faces of fallen angels". - Rebel Music
"I'm tired of being young, gifted, black and broke/held down by the system, we lacking hope". - Wanna Be Free
"Never lose sight to the things in life/valued more than ice and worth a sacrifice". - Growing Pains
"Money has to be made, we're all slaves to the cash". - Slaving on the Plantation
Overall rating: B+
Wearing the thought-provoking cloak, War for Peace plays as an introspectively written sonnet for the curious mind. The album is by no means for everyone, nor will it be an instant favourite. But if kept on repeat, you're sure to have a new perspective on the simple things along life's journey.
From a lyrical point of view, War for Peace might easily be one of the niftiest compilations for a local hip-hop artiste. Granted, there aren't a lot of albums from local hip-hop emcees, but Steez sure is a standout with one main goal - making his name a global phenomenon.
From here on, many persons will give his imaginatively creative song concepts a second play and wonder what he'll offer next.
1. Propheticz, featuring Inztinkz
2. Rebel Music
3. Dreams Deferred
4. Slaving on the Plantation
5. Yard Nigga Rap
6. Crown Me King
7. Untold Stories
8. Black Beauty
9. I Am, featuring Kabaka Pyramid
10. Wanna Be Free, featuring Nomad Carlos
11. Growing Pains, featuring Shaq the MC
13. Shining, featuring Tara Harrison