Reviewed by Oliver X
When I was twelve, my father died of a
massive heart attack while sleeping. For
three years thereafter, I quietly hovered
outside my mother's bedroom door each
night to listen to her breathing. Panic
trauma behavior is so prevalent in
childhood, but less so in Hip-Hop
narratives of the heart. So when I came
across the track "Hear You Breathe," by
local Hip-Hop group Who Cares, I immediately was struck by the reference, and had a wave of sense memory crash against my brain. Taken on its own--and indicative of the early promise that their career exhibited--the 2002 track is a DIY indie masterpiece of unrequited love, or what the 20th-Century Japanese tanka poet Takuboku Ishikawa called Akogare--yearning admiration. When rapper Ernie Upton says, "But she just might be the bright light to conquer the darkness," it's a kind of substance of things hoped for, that defines the faith youth brings to love.
The group's entire suite of tracks assembled on their SonicBids EPK, and Myspace page--from sessions recorded from 2002-2007--represent the finest homegrown chops seen here since The Mudsharks and Landrus ripped it up in Reno. Cuts like "Heaven Ain't Hard," "Scarecrow and the Magpie," "Electro Rock" and "The Rain Song" showcase Bob James-inspired electric piano figures, deep baritone sax riffs and mood mending melodica tones that lift Who Cares beyond simple "Emo-Rap" genre categorization. The group's lyrical sensibilities tap the thematics of uncertainty, touching on school yard shenanigans, teen angst, hard knock love trials and the brutal hazing that scars the uncool.
Cats that would rhyme "exoskeleton" and "gelatin" get my attention every time. Far too talented for small market anonymity, Who Cares is the mouthpiece through which Nikki Beach and Pearl Champagne Lounge Entertainment Director EJ Luera preaches his wildly popular Hip-Hop 101 monthly gospel at the Grand Sierra Resort & Casino. Nuff respect to these local Hip-Hop innovators, who butter their musical bread with jams mama saves for company.
Saxophonist-singer Jamal Tarkington, singer-melodica player Young Aundee and rapper-turntablist Ernie Upton, collectively known as Who Cares opened for the world renown DJ Z-Trip inside The Grand
Sierra Resort & Casino's newly remodeled Pearl
Champagne Lounge on August 8, 2008. Check out
Who Cares on Myspace at