Modern Griots Review: RebelMatic’s “Prey for the Vulture”

Prey for the Vulture cover art

Below is my review of the band RebelMatic’s CD that I received at Afropunk:

“And I solemnly swear/that I won’t allow you/ to treat us like we are not here,” Creature of RebelMatic announces in the song, “Don’t Follow Me.” The album Prey for the Vulture sounds like a rallying cry in the midst of coming destruction that is inspired by revolutionary rock and hip-hop of the 90s. Think of N.W.A., Public Enemy, and Rage Against the Machine placed into one sonic pot and what will come out is RebelMatic.

Filled with driving guitars and drums along with frontman Creatures’s commanding voice (both rapping and singing) and samples from sources like Menace II Society, the songs speak about the continuous social injustices done to the marginalized in America, notably Black men. The first track, “Get Up N Go” begins with the teacher, Mr Butler’s statement: “Being a black man in America isn’t easy/the hunt is on and you’re the prey.” It is a fitting way to show what can push Black men to the edge, which is the the title of the next track, and the reason for the rage inside some of them and their disillusionment with America.

RebelMatic continues his critique in his songs, “Don’t Follow Me,” “Top of the Mourning” and “Reckless Eyeballing.” He highlights the criminalization, surveillance and exploitation of black men. This is not only in cases of being followed in the stores, police and military abuses, and harmful stereotypes, but also from within Black communities, like deceitful pastors, religions used as a crutches and acceptability politics. For example, in “Reckless Eyeballing,” he says that Malcolm X would not have existed without Detroit Red. RebelMatic even chants the phrase made popular by both N.W.A. and Rage Against the Machine, “F**k the Police!”

“Set Myself on Fire” is a slower track with a reggae vibe to it. It is one of the more poetic songs on the album as he offers to sacrifice himself in the struggle and promises separate himself others who lie, rob, and remain ignorant. The latter are the subject of “Close as Strangers,” people who smile in your face but actually despise you.

One of the last songs, “Ballad of the Cyclops” which starts with “Where were you when the world came to an end” describes a kind of dystopian paranoia (“sleeping with one eye closed”), living in a world of “unfulfilled dreams” and devastation. The despair can be heard in the bridge, “children playing on broken glass/it’s a future with a hopeless past/present wrapped in a box…hyenas laugh at the way I react.” “Silent Alarm” and “Wet Baby” repeat the critiques of an exploitative world where “you scream and you yell” just trying to be heard. However, these last songs are not as compelling as the earlier tracks. Still, given the events that has been happening in the world recently, Prey for the Vulture is a refreshing smack in the face for these times.

Read another review of the album for more information on Creature’s career and watch the video for “Reckless Eyeballin” below:

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