Somebody better tell them niggas… KEEP IT MOVIN!
This is my story. It should have been the story of an amazing rap group… I should be writing about the incredible deftness with which, the quartet known as, CLEAR SOUL FORCES (CSF) delivers music. The punctuality of their terse verses, the rhythm that rattles in their throats and the total, utter death of feeling, the sense of bereavement that accompanies the end of each of their songs.
I should tell about the boisterous attention CSF pays to their beat selections, they are religious devotees, spiritual seekers; eagerly praying to the sometimes soulful, sometimes jarring, always intense (even when quiet) instrumental background they play over. Their vocal styling is as different as each of the four personalities that make CSF, but it is also a singular FORCE. One reckless and resilient vibration; a resolute twine of four separate and hypnotizing strings wound together to deliver a CLEAR thread, colorful and full of SOUL, power and a new idea of music.
They don't know… KEEP IT MOVIN!
It's Clear Soul… KEEP IT MOVIN!
Toe to Toe… KEEP IT MOVIN!
This story should be about four young black men. It should explain why there is a stress about them being "young","black", "men" and "young black men". If this was their story it would explain the importance of their youth. Youth is an idea. An idea conceived or confirmed by appearance; people recognize youth by what they see, and if you met CSF you would know immediately that they are nothing if not the embodiment of youth.
JUST KEEP IT MOVING… KEEP IT MOVIN! (Aaah)
Their skin is clear, with some of the disappearing blemishes that were around from a distant pre-youth. Their bodies are strong as they aggressively gesticulate; pushing arms and hands through the air, bopping their heads violently to a relentless beat, pivoting about their hips, with a gymnast's tension, as they dip down and up, as they create this wave of energy some might call dancing, but those who know bother not to call it anything. Their minds are sharp… really focused. The sharpness of their youthful minds is apparent in the synchronicity of everything that distributes their thoughts; their voices, bodies and eyes. All of their person respond to the logistics of delivering each word, so a thoughtful verse like "my favorite color is 'murder' backwards" is pronounced with a confidence that is more statement than entreaty. It is enunciated in a manner that supposes you know; that implies explanation is unnecessary because the truth is evident. They jerk, physically, when they deliver that line. It is a physicality that sweeps over the entire group (even though it is but one of them making the statement). Their eyes are fierce, a power contained but ready to explode, holding the gaze of the rawness of their music.
If this was their story then it would mention their youth in terms of all the above, but in terms that are ultimately confining.
GOLD DIGGERS… KEEP IT MOVIN!
Law Officials… KEEP IT MOVIN!
Non-believers … KEEP IT MOVIN!
Baby mommas … KEEP IT MOVIN!
They are after all not just "young", they are also "black" and "men". All three words combine immediately to foster an idea that would limit most people to a particular description of who CSF is. Then all might be lost and comparisons become forced. "Oh! That shit is like slum village!" or "that dude sounds just like jay-z" or some other reference that helps in conversation but takes away from the experience of actually enjoying CSF for what these brothers are.
This then is not the story of CLEAR SOUL FORCES, it is my story. It is the story of me trying desperately to use words to describe a feeling that was translated by four amazing musicians who bottled up their emotions in a jar named "music" and broke it over my spirit. I was squatting trying to put the pieces together, all the while doing a poor job attempting to re-master the magic I heard.
Below is the poor attempt; a warning to fools who try to describe the indescribable.
THE UNFINISHED STORY OF THE CLEAR SOUL FORCES VIDEO FILMING SESSION
(Author's Note: Single Barrel Detroit asked me to write about my experience watching them film CLEAR SOUL FORCES in a Corktown record shop. I ended up purchasing the group's record and listening to it incessantly. A standout track for me is "Keep It Moving". This is really a three part story, each leading to the same place; BUY THIS ALBUM)
ACT 1: THE PRESENT
There is a friendly man standing behind a Corktown counter. Vinyl records in clear plastic line the walls of this small shop.
Hello Records in Corktown is the quintessential record store, an appropriate prop for one of those color bleached indie movies. An island caddy of records sits in a short column in the middle of the store. Catalogued with white labels tagged in black sharpie ink, the music offerings are arranged orderly announcing a variety of genres; Motown, R&B, Reggae… The quiet record shop is affected evidently by a group of rappers who have entered. Here is CLEAR SOUL FORCES, a little late to their film shoot but their nonchalant charm forgives everything.
There is a slightly worried look on the face of the shop owner. The slight worry slips understandably into consternation when a gleaming stainless steel turn table arrives. The shop has suddenly become noticeably smaller, it seems, more from the brimming energy audibly emanating from the group than the slowly retreating available space.
The shop owner is friendly, he chats briefly with Andy, producer for the film shoot.
"Nothing to worry about, all is well my friend" Andy's disarmingly boyish face seems to say.
The friendly shop owner's face is slowly less fraught; he goes back to wiping dust of his records.
Brightly colored candy wrappers are strewn over empty vinyl record jackets, the band is cracking jokes with each other as the Single Barrel Detroit two man film crew preps. Photographer Dave Lewinski, gets playful shots of the playful crew. They eagerly leaf through vinyl records, ribbing on Prince for wearing a thong on an album cover. There is a reverence to their jokes, it seems they are conversant with talent no matter how little it is dressed. Loud "oohs" greet a new record find, a potential sample for the next record.
ACT 2: THE MUSIC
CLEAR SOUL FORCES has a story you can read somewhere on the internet. What you need to know about CSF is deeper than their story, it's about their raps, melody, groove, melancholy, vocal ability and force.
Their music is amazing coherent; the production cohabits, in an easy marriage, with the delivery. Each member with his own distinct style produces verses that park next to the beat, and then ride it through to their part's end, opening to a smooth transition for the next man to go.
Eventually all the different, distinct sounds meld into an insistent and singular symphony that is pure music. This is not hip hop, poetry or rap… it is music, hard to explain but felt as each part of their flow jumps on just the right section of the background beat. Their words slip into the beat's instrumental pockets so easily, frighteningly easily in fact, that you begin to lose sense of where you are, what you were doing and why... this is the hypnosis of (verbally ambitiously) violent hymns.
ACT 3: THE RAP GROUP
(Author's Note: I just gave up here. I found myself repeating the same ideas. CLEAR SOUL FORCES' music is to be participated in through listening, everything else is invalid)- Tunde Wey
1459 Bagley St.
Established in 2008 and located in the historic Corktown neighborhood of Detroit, Hello Records is one of the city's best kept secrets. With a constantly shifting stock spanning the 1890's to the present, the all vinyl record shop sports one of the most knowledgeable staffs in the midwest. Both the rich Metro Detroit music history displayed on its walls and the impressively curated stock of classic LP's and rare 45's in all genres makes a stop at Hello a must for record collectors and curiosity seekers alike.
To celebrate the 5th annual Record Store Day and drive awareness of Detroit's most notable vinyl options, we organized a Detroit Ca$h Mob event to coincide with the launch of the show. Hello Records served as our main venue, with Hamtramck's Record Graveyard joining in to provide a second stop on our record crawl.