Apr 22, 2016

#FlashbackFriday: Kollage (20th Anniversary) - @Bahamadia; A Niles P. Joint

In a recent interview, Bahamadia said that “To date, nobody has done any justice in terms of really documenting accurately the contribution that I’ve made towards Hip-Hop, towards the global community of Hip-Hop.”  And while she may be right, let me be the one to try and encapsulate some of her impact.   I first got hip to her via a guest spot on the legendary Soundbombing 2.  Eventually I made my way to her debut album Kollage, which just celebrated its 20th anniversary.  With that in mind, there’s no better album to cover for #FlashbackFriday.  Reexamining it showed just how underrated it was.  In a year where a lot of hip hop albums are getting their just due in 20th anniversary tributes, this one was well deserving.

The first thing you may notice about this album and Bahamadia’s general rap style is the preciseness in the face of abundance.  Yeah she tends to pack a ton of syllables into her bars, but she does so without any wasted motion.  Everything fits in clearly and calmly.  She’s lyrical without earning the dreaded “lyrical miracle” or “rappin’ ass rapper” title given to emcees that try too hard to force punchlines while sacrificing cadence.  Her flow never suffers for the sake of her lyrics.  Evidence of this is heard in the aptly named Wordplay, Spontaneity, & Rugged Ruff,  which are gloriously laced with respective beats by Guru, Da Beatminerz, & DJ Premier.  

Aside from spitting metaphors and similes faster than an automatic rifle, Bahamadia also showed ability to tackle specific subject matter in her music.  I Confess gave her the opportunity to slow things down and make a melodic love song without losing her edge.  A Marvin Gaye interpolation on the hook helped the process.  True Honey Buns (Dat Freak Shit) was a storytelling track that doubled as a cautionary tale about women going above and beyond to become groupies.  Motherhood  and its surrounding feelings are thoroughly discussed on the N.O. Joe - produced Biggest Part of Me, which takes a sentimental route sans sap.  Easier said than done, but Bahamadia makes everything look effortless.  

Hell, she even made a good host for other guest emcees on her own tracks.  On 3 Tha Hard Way, she welcomed K-Swift & Mecca Star onto a track to peddle their lyrical wares.  While she set the table for them to eat the track, she got the first and last word with her own traditionally superb verses.  Elsewhere, it’s only right that the Philadelphia emcee entertained an intrasquad scrimmage of sorts and included The Roots (think the 1996 version.)  In what may be the most Philly thing ever, they rock a posse cut called Da Jawn, which sounds like a holy union between a jam session & cypher that came about in the twilight hours in a darkened South Philly basement.  

Speaking of the city of brotherly love, Bahamadia definitely puts on for her city on the seminal cut Uknowhowwedu, which is co-produced by Ski & DJ Redhanded.  She’s referenced Philly in other songs throughout the album, but this song is specifically here to pay homage to Illadelph’s illustrious history in hip hop.  She even dedicates nearly a third of the track to giving shoutouts to damn near every prominent emcee or DJ from the area.  

This brings us full circle to Bahamadia & her legacy.  Those in the know revere her rapping ability.  But she still gets unjustly looked over at times.  Such was the case last year when in an interview with DJ Vlad that touched on many of Philly’s dopest emcees from the foundation to contemporary times, Bahamadia’s name didn’t come up (which when pointed out by me on Twitter, Jamar retweeted & Bahamadia herself thanked me for.)  Point is, Bahamadia has made a cornerstone in the game on a number of levels, and it all starts with this album.  It’s one of the best hip hop albums to come out regionally, and is a Philadelphia masterpiece.  I feel that women should be looked at as a subgroup but not a subgenre in hip hop as many of them have different styles and can’t be compared just because they are the same sex.  But in that subgroup, Bahamadia is in the upper echelon of rap chicks because of her commitment to quality in her music.  And probably most importantly, in the vaunted class of 1996 rap albums, Kollage should be celebrated front and center as the classic that it is with the rest of the best from that year. I’m still discovering different nuances in every nook and cranny of her lyrics and flow.  While I tried to analyze and present the album to the best of my ability, I still don’t feel like I did it justice.  Your best bet is to check the album out for yourself and write about Bahamadia in the pages of your own personal rap history, which is where she belongs.

Multimedia Journalist, Founder and Chief Editor of WTM Host of A-Side B-Side Podcast and more. I like to talk about stuff and write it down. Sometimes to a microphone. Either way, I need you to feel this.

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