Hip-hop is a family business for Frisco girl Rocky Rivera and Watts native Bambu. The couple recently moved to Oakland after several years in LA, and it is here where Bam has put the finishing touches on his final album, …One Rifle Per Family. Though the two are both emcees, they actually haven’t collaborated much, in the interest of building their respective brands. However, with “family” in the title of his new LP, it made sense to build. Hell, even their adorable son is in the video rapping Bambu’s opening bars from the front stoop.
The lyrics of “Rent Money” hint at the survival and solidarity work that have become emblematic of Bam’s life and music, while the video treatment honors that struggle as a foundation upon which the next generation is radicalized. It’s perhaps odd to see a ten year old reading Ché and providing white board critiques of capitalism, but with state sanctioned public education increasingly geared toward training and tracking our children, the task of opening their minds is our responsibility. With the rise of school systems, we’ve come to view education as a thing that is imparted in a specific time and space, but in oppressed communities education must be a constant community-based liberatory practice. Afterall, “Only a fool would let their enemies educate his children.” Word to Malcolm.
If you’re familiar with Bambu’s music, then none of this is news to you. He’s been spitting game since his days with Kiwi in Native Guns. When I first got put up on Bam via … I Scream Bars For The Children I was struck by his coexisting wisdom, aggression, introspection and musicality. I wasn’t hearing peacenik “conscious rap”, I was listening to honest real life music from an agitational perspective shared by some of the most intelligent and influential people in my life. If the only hip-hop you can appreciate is cookie-cutter misogyny or fake gangsterism, keep it pushing. And if you think everything is cool, and oppressed people are just lazy complainers, fuck you and good bye. …One Rifle Per Family, and Bambu’s music in general, is survival music from the perspective of a former LA gangbanger, ex-US soldier, Pinoy community organizer, father and freedom fighter. It’s deep and dope, and no the two are not mutually exclusive.
“I’ll probably get in trouble for this shit, but that’s funny cuz studio gangstas rap about killing their own people and they get plaques. I get homeland security letters and shit. But fuck yall man, stop closing schools down and maybe I’ll put the rifle away. But until then, educate, organize, mobilize… One rifle per family.” -Bambu
Stream …One Rifle Per Family at the bottom of the page, cop it on iTunes, and check out his better half’s new viral video for “Bulletproof” filmed here in Oakland, CA.