Change, released last Saturday by the Lewiston based rappers. Pallaso and The Mess, takes Ugandan influence and incorporates elements of popular American music.
Pallaso, a Ugandan-raised rapper formerly known as Pius Lizard and Pius Mayanja, released several cuts in his home country and has shared the stage with the likes of Sean Paul and soca artist Kevin Lyttles. Pallaso’s sound while he was in Africa showcased his impressive rap skills, but was based in the soca tradition. His songs were long jams with an upbeat syncopated drumbeat and repetitive vocals. Jesse Hammond, aka The Mess, has collaborated with Pallaso on Change to create tracks that are laden with sampled synthesizers and use chord progressions that are synonymous with American pop—predictable, repetitive and classic in every way. The two rappers have done an excellent job in combining elements of different musical styles while still sounding organic.
The lyrics on this album show strength, resilience and acceptance of diverse individuals more than anything else. “Believe in Me,” which incorporates a somewhat cheesy but very fitting acoustic guitar dub, sings about recovering from drug addiction and the stigma that can be attached to substance abuse. This song attempts to remove that stigma and replace it with acceptance, empowerment and advocacy for individuals that have suffered from addiction. “If I Try” encourages individuals to change the world and reduce world problems such as drug abuse. Although this might seem idealistic, this track inspires the listener to think what of what could happen is more people worked harder change the world for the better.
Although Change uses techniques in arranging and composing that are common in American pop and rap, it is not your typical hip-hop album. Lyrics work to inspire listeners, and Pallaso brings a unique flavor to the music that is not often heard on Top 40 albums. Both Pallaso and The Mess are technically advanced in their songwriting and rapping skills and don’t hide it on their album. Change deserves an in-depth listen to appreciate how two rappers can make stories of heartache the source of immense listening pleasure and inspiration.