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Straight Outta Albuquerque: The 2bers release "Nine Years Later"

August 11, 2009, 12:00 am
By SFR Staff
The 2bers CD Release Party

8 pm
Friday, Aug.  14


$5

The Pub & Grill at Santa Fe Brewing Company
37 Fire Place
424-9637


When I first heard of Albuquerque hip-hop duo the 2bers, I was in the audience of New Mexico CultureNet's Poetry Jam at the Lensic on May 7. "Oh, jeez," I thought. "Skinny white boys rapping in New Mexico? Awesome." Psh. I geared up to snooze my way through their set.

But when they performed, I was taken completely by surprise. They were awesome. It was just the two of them and a CD player (they threw the gig together quickly and didn't even have time to get their usual backup, The One Foundation Band, together), but they brought the Lensic down with heartfelt hip-hop.

After they finished performing and the house lights came on for intermission, I wanted to tell them what a great job they'd done, but they were absolutely swamped with high school kids asking for autographs. I was about 10 years too old to blend in with the little horde, so I hung back and decided I'd talk to them the next chance I got.

The next chance I got came when they emailed me about the release party for Nine Years Later9YL is a 2bers project that features one 2ber (1ber?), Bles Infinite (aka Luke Hale), in particular. I was able to sit down with the guys one Wednesday evening at Corazon to catch up with them about the album, their nine years together, and the relationship that Eph Sharpe (aka Collin Troy) calls "beyond bromance."

Troy and Hale moved in together as roommates when they were 18 or 19 years old, and soon after they began calling themselves the 2bers and releasing albums. "We didn't realize we were starting a group," Hale says with a smile. Around the same time, Hale's first daughter was born, and the last nine years have been a journey for the 2bers - personally, professionally, musically, emotionally.

Troy points out that they, as a group, have always wanted to highlight Hale. It's not a solo album, but it's also not in line with Children of a Mortal Sun, their 2008 album which featured the two performers equally.

Children is varied and melodic. Troy's vocals often lilt from tenor to alto in a hauntingly sweet sing-song, in deep contrast to Hale's dense, gravelly rap. "Harvest and Grow" opens the album with an ultimately sing-alongable chorus and thought-provoking lyrics from Hale. Standout tracks include the syncopated, piano-riddled "6th String," "Reason to Breathe" with an incessant atonal droning sample track lurking in the background, and the infectous but uneasy instrumental "The City is Still Blue."

9YL may come as a surprise to those expecting another Children. Troy only contributes vocals to three of the 13 tracks.

"We can't not release things because they don't fit into the paradigm in which people think we're working," Troy says in response to the thought that some people might view this release not as a 2bers record, but as something separate. "This particular work was there, it was ripe, and we decided to go with it."

Authenticity is key to the 2bers. Hale has been writing poetry and songs since high school, and he views the release of Nine Years Later as "an affirmation of the work we've put in." He writes songs about life, and those songs come out dark, political, intelligent and, above all, hard-hitting. "We're not just trying to make a single," Hale says of the 2bers' current music, which admittedly may not appeal to the teenybopper crowd that swamped the duo at Poetry Jam. "We're trying to make good music."

An important aspect of the 2bers current sound is that both the guys are now fathers. Hale has two daughters, and four months ago Troy became a daddy as well. The addition of kids to the mix gives the artists a new look at life, the fulfillment of dreams and the creation of a safe, yet artistic, world.

In addition to being intelligent life forms that know how to write ("I'm an emcee with a college degree," Hale says of his creative writing degree from UNM), the 2bers want to make music that isn't gangsta rap that panders to the thug lifestyle. Hale credits Del the Funky Homosapien with the shift he needed in hip-hop; "He rapped about normal stuff that I could relate to," Hale says of his early years, saying that he could actually bring home Del albums because they didn't have a parental advisory sticker. That sentiment carries over into the 2bers' work; they rap about music, politics, growing up, family - stuff that kids can relate to.

Hale and Troy are particularly excited for the show at the Santa Fe Brewing Company because it will be all-ages. The kids who swarmed them at Poetry Jam will hopefully show up in force (the reason the guys were in Santa Fe on the day I met them was because they were meeting up with their street team; "Why do you have 15-year-olds calling your cell phone?" Hale asks Troy with a laugh). The music is good, sure, but the guys' attitudes keep the good spirit rolling.

"The hip-hop scene is a lot of crabs in a barrel," Hale says, "There's a lot of ego. Every song is about how dope you are and what you're doing and why you're so cool." Not so with these guys, natch. The 2bers, since they play such a variety of music and often perform with The One Foundation Band (Joey Evans on drums, Nathan Kappel on bass, Matt Korce on guitar and Troy on keyboards), they have managed to create close relationships with a number of local bands including La Junta, Mystic Vision, Crazyfool and the Felonious Groove Band.

Friday's concert promises to be a high-energy romp in local hip-hop wonderfulness and splendor. I, personally, can't make it (I will be 2,000 miles away), so I urge every last person reading this to go to the Brewing Company this weekend and rock out extra-hard - for me.

The 2bers CD Release Party

8 pm
Friday, Aug.  14


$5

The Pub & Grill at Santa Fe Brewing Company
37 Fire Place
424-9637

 

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