“Build and Destroy” Brings Conscious Hip Hop Put To Sonically-Sound Beats Together
By Jhantu Randall
In an era where materialism and decadence is celebrated and promoted within Hip Hop, emcee Josh Rizeberg of Tacoma Hilltop Nieghborhood in Washington State seemingly does not fit the superficial bill of modern rap. However if Hip Hop fans take the time searching for rap music that holds any kind of real substance, they will find it with Rizeberg and his band, Build and Destroy. This is where ʻconsciousʻ rap tends to fill the void of rhythmic drum patterns and non-cynical bragging. Replace throwing money in the air and making it rain with stories about the average individual’s struggle while giving the power to the people.
With it being such a niche market on its own, you would think finding conscious Hip Hop on a local level would be impossible. Luckily, Build and Destroy has this corner of Hip Hop figured out and has more than just the skills to rap. This guy can not only rap but is a noteworthy spoken word and Slam poet, writer and photographer. From performing on bills with him and watching him as a fan in the crowd, I have always been a huge fan of Rizebergʻs content and curious to hear what he would sound like on wax.
Luckily, I was sent a link to an album called Build and Destroy created by a collective who goes by the same name. Build and Destroy is composed of Josh Rizeberg, Whikid, Awall Aka 2Piece, Pesha, and EEE Tree. Whikid and Awall were raised as children in Tacoma where their families also have roots.
Pesha, Candra and Josh all have been residents for 20-years, including the later part of their childhood. Josh and Pesha are brother and sister, while Awall has been friends with Rizeberg since childhood. They both met Whikid in early ʻ00 through the music scene. They then met EEE Tree through touring while he lived in Oakland, California. It’s there that they would link up and connect.
As fate would have it, EEE Tree moved from Oakland, arriving in the same neighborhood as the others. Chandra is Josh’s wife, and is quite a photographer in her own right. As they worked together they began noticing the heavy-handed monster of gentrification taking over their neighborhood, the place they had all come accustomed to called home. Not ones to be pushed aside in a program that looks at residents as expendable, merely dollar signs in the margins for outside influences.
Build and Destroy then began collectively organizing, reacting and resisting together as one. Through that process of combining their art, ideas and voices, they organically became a collective, advocating for low-income housing, de-gentrified spaces, ousting corrupt policies and the politicians behind them while also taking on the rise of white supremacist groups and putting out music.
Before I dive into the individual tracks, we must examine how pleasing Rizebergʻs music is sonically. Credited to the production of Mae Dali, Don James, Mashin Neek and Eeetree who composed great beats and curated a complimentary atmosphere within the music for the emcees.
Kicking off the album is one of my favorite tracks, “#WBAD radio” which begins with a child’s voice doing a radio interlude as a sample of Marvin Gaye’s “Inner-city Blues.” The track starts off soft and mellow and then begins to build. As soon as the song takes off, it’s Rizeberg’s vocals that grab your ear and force you to listen. Through his cadence and wordplay he paints a vivid image of life in the hilltops of Tacoma, Washington through the eyes of someone who walks the concrete streets and feels the hustle that bleeds through the cracks in the sidewalk.
The next track, “Fuck Wit This” is the longest track on the album at 6:35 in length but it hosts a bevy of people who all fill the songs requirements well. The last verse on “Fuck Wit This” offers the ultimate standout.
“Build And Destroy;” the title track for the album, brings a weighted perspective to the world we live in; speaking on subjects such as protesting, B.L.M., regaining control and fighting towards a sense of actual equality.
“Blessings” is another track which confronts the corruption the system practices by telling the listener all the things that are happening in that neighborhood and giving the listener a warning to always keep their eyes open so they can see what is going on.
“Build And Destroy,” as an entire album flows well and fills the need for lyricism that is sorely lacking in the rap world. Each song has its own particular lane as each featured artist adds their viewpoint, giving the overall project a well-rounded narrative from multiple viewpoints. The entire project is a musical success for independent Hip Hop. Fans should note that this album is more than just beats, there is a message behind the lyrics if one only takes a listen.