Local lyricists bring rap back to its activist roots

By By Sarah Janel Jackson

By Sarah Janel Jackson

If you’re the type who thinks hip-hop is all about booty and bling, you’re missing the point-a point which local emcees Ply and Reaper are striving to bring back to rap music. The two have know each other since they met as members of West High School’s Improv theatrical troupe and say that they bonded instantly over their similar perspectives on life and music.

Although both linguists admittedly haven’t had the easiest lives-Ply was born and raised in Tehran, Iran during the revolution, and Reaper’s home was riddled by 19 bullets from a military-issue assault rife in a drive-by shooting last year-both men contend that they are trying to stay true to hip-hop’s roots in social and political activism.

The pair uses rhymes to tell stories about serious issues in hopes of promoting thought and education in the minds of those who listen.

“Don’t get me wrong,” Reaper said. “Those people who talk about getting shot and all that, that’s real life, but there is a difference between glorifying [that type of violence] and trying to solve the problem. We’re the solve-the-problem part.”

Reaper lends his unique brand of storytelling, and Ply his self-described “hotheaded political rap” in a fusion that puts mainstream “skeet” rap to shame. The duo’s most recent album “Bad Dreams” has sold out in record stores across Utah, Colorado, Oregon and California.

Recently, the duo opened for conscious hip-hop legend Spearhead at Club Suede during the Sundance Film Festival, and they may be asked to open for Black Eyed Peas in May.

Other than their big-time gigs, Ply and Reaper hold regular benefit concerts at which they donate proceeds from their album sales to social justice organizations such as RAINN, WarChild and the YWCA. As for the future of hip-hop, the emcees say that in some ways the music seems to be returning to its roots, but that club songs will always sell more in the mainstream.

“Sometimes you need to be able to go to the club and dance while you’re being educated, too,” Reaper said.

Ply and Reaper will bring their crafty brand of hip-hop styling to the stage on Feb. 26 at club DV8. You can find out more about Ply and Reaper and their sponsors and causes at www.racelessrecords.com.

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