Stephen Eric Bryden, aka Sankofa, is the premier Midwest wordsmith. A guy whose vernacular is that of an Encyclopedia Britannica, and his rhymes are always in-the-moment and of the utmost urgency. He’s a thoughtful lyricist, whether he’s rapping about our failing political system(“Joe Harvey X #doubledownondumb”), social unrest(“Killer Mike For President”), or the best damn hot dogs in the Midwest(“The NeighborLINK”). Words and knowledge are Sankofa’s superpowers(he’s also an educator when the mic is holstered.)
The last three years have seen Bryden on an epic streak of releases. Ink From Rust, 100 Magnets, 102 Magnets, $5,000 Flashlights, and Glyde Drexler to name but a few albums and EPs he’s dropped since March of 2017. There doesn’t seem to be a stopping point anytime soon, either(thankfully.) Weird Summer is Sankofa’s newest release, and it’s a breezy shot of old school hip hop. It’s 20 minutes of crackling samples, hip hop classicism, and some of the best lyrical delivery you’ll hear coming out of the Bible Belt.
“Kafka Days” opens on an apocalyptic note. A song that feels of the present times with lyrics like “From consensus to contentious in a sentence/I clench fists and bring this message to attention’s tension/And then shift my weight preparing for the launch/A world insane, gone so perilous and wrong.” The almost dreamy “Review Designs” has the feel of some street-level fairy tale. A simple beat leaves plenty of open space for Sankofa to fill with lyrical wisdom. “Deaf dumb and blinded by the light of dying stars/The next rung that I can climb will find defiant hearts/I’m trying, by and large, it’s kind of working, I suppose/Popping wheelies on side roads, my eyes are closed.”
Elsewhere “All Ricochets” has the vibe of some Cotton Club after party; boozy, bluesy, and with a serious swing. Sankofa is right in the pocket here and it’s glorious. With the production, mixing, and mastering by wingclipper, Weird Summer is the quick shot of hip hop we need for these truly strange and foreboding times.
Sankofa is a man that’s constantly tuned into the vibes around him; good, bad, and otherwise. In-particular, Sankofa’s a man concerned for his family, his home, and his city. Weird Summer shows Sankofa plugged in, engaged, and breathing lyrical fire.
Weird Summer is available now. Head over to Sankofa’s Bandcamp page and pay what you want.