A film about Northwest hip-hop from 1993
David “General Jam” Akers and Derrick “MC Nitro” Graves met at a party in 1983, and soon became a rap duo. They chose the name Powercore, and in 1989 the two dropped their only album, We Got The Jazz, engineered by Gary Mula. MC Nitro produced most of the beats on We Got The Jazz, and the album displayed the two talented MCs on inventive tracks like “All The Way,” “Nita,” and “The Bass Is In Effect.”
After that release, Akers teamed up with Mula to work on a solo album. It would take four years to complete, during which time Akers changed his name from “General Jam” to “D. Rogale.” The album title is Metamorphosis, and it’s a drastic departure from any of the themes on We Got The Jazz. Live music makes up a huge element of the soundscape, and a long list of musicians are credited, including guitar, bass, flute, saxophone, flugelhorn, and trumpet. One little detail that I love is that the 1989 promo bio for Powercore says that Akers’ favorite color is purple, and sure enough that is the color of the artwork for 1993’s Metamorphosis.
Metamorphosis is about inner thoughts and personal growth. The album is arranged into three stages marked by short skits. “Stage One” is, “a time to claim mental health” and “get in touch with what you really need.” From the first beats of “Trust” it’s clear that this album is a brilliant, sonic achievement. It should go without saying, but good microphones really do go a long way to creating a successful song. The next track, “Hostile,” is about how divorce can affect families and especially children, “He’s growing up the same as his dad, without a doubt his attitude’s bad.” The cross-pollinated Chuck D samples (from “Fear Of A Black Planet” and “Anti-N***** Machine”) in the chorus of “Can’t Stand It” really heighten the message of equality, lending gravitas to this song.
“Stage Two” of Metamorphosis reminds us that, “Simply put, life changes constantly, continually,” so we must adapt to survive. “Since 79” is my favorite cut on the album, and it tells D. Rogale’s story of growing up during the birth of rap music. “Since the beginning of time when I first started to rhyme, I was just a young kid back in ’79.” As a historical note, the song “Kickin The Gift” from Powercore’s album also starts with a similar lyric. The most educational track on Metamorphosis is “No Drums Allowed,” which discusses how generations of kidnapped people from Africa were deprived of their culture and history upon arriving in America.
The album concludes with “Stage Three,” the final stage of Metamorphosis. “You will either progress or digress, it is in your hands,” D. Rogale tells us. This is a very unusual rap record, and it stands out due to its originality and bold confidence. The positive messages of empowerment have aged very well over the last thirty years, and I would advise any fan of Seattle rap to seek out this unique CD. Written by Novocaine132