Introducing ‘Notes from Mr. Sandman‘ – a column slapping a spotlight on lyricists overlooked, under appreciated, or just plain criminally slept on. Or like a man named Nas once said, “I never sleep, cause sleep is the cousin of death.” Enter Mr. Sandman with what y’all missed while chasing the REM dragon.
Great hip-hop doesn’t have to come from New York or LA or even Chicago, it can come from anywhere and Soul Position is proof of that. Comprised of Ohio natives RJD2 and Blueprint, Soul Position did things in two albums that some rap groups spend their entire meager careers trying to recreate.
Their EP Unlimited crept up out of nowhere hitting the ground with brute force. It was laced with that distinct RJ sound, deep fried soul loops with just the right type of drums to drive the action along. Blueprint handles the ink and is unyielding with the wordplay. He’s got more sensibility than your typical LA rapper and is far more down to earth than the NY variety – distinctly Midwest with a smooth, effortless flow. While there are many telling moments on the EP “Take Your Time” is as good a snapshot as any – from the obscure samples to the timeless lyrics by an old soul: [ ]
The EP was a good sampler for what was to come in 8 Million Stories. You can’t listen to the album without being awed by – like the title implies – the colorful stories that fill their book. The shining star is the “The Jerry Springer Episode,” a hilariously dysfunctional tale of relationships gone sour. A few lines into it and you can see where it’s going, storytelling that tells itself: [ ]
It took three years for them to release a follow up. RJ had blown up and Blueprint had his own solo career to focus on. But when Things go Better with RJ and Al dropped it was like nothing had changed. They just picked right up where 8 million Stories left off, not missing one step. The album showed us glimpses of greatness from all angles – that Soul Position had a firm understanding of their style: solid, unobtrusive production and a lyricist who can snap scenes like Ansel Adams. Or like they say in “No Gimmicks:” [LISTEN]