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Album Review

aERmed Mindz "ER Frequencies"
aERmed Mindz is a newly formed hip hop group by two Eritrean students residing in California. Dj Shida and Legacy teamed up to form aERmed Mindz and released an album entitled "ER Frequencies". ER Frequencies was recorded in Fresno, Ca and released during the Toronto festival. The album is a pleasant surprise consisting of humor and substance. Skits such as T to the izz, a remix of Jay H to the izz O (HOVA), where Legacy and Shida impersonate two older habesha people lyrically battling each other, are probably the most hilarious one. The rest of the skits include impersonation of bin Ladin, the famous "Adey Etay", just to name a few. The track "Eritrean Love", is about love at first sight. This particular track is the full package, with the two talented artists delivering flows in Tigrigna, Tigre, Arabic and English! The lyricism is simply superb and the chorus "Eritrean love/Eritrean beauty you gotta love it/Eritrean love/Eritrea soul u gotta have it" is definitely catchy. This song dominated the speakers at the soccer field in Toronto and caught the attention of Eritreans of all ages. The single, "Er Frequencies" was another delight. With a laid back flow and a nice chorus (where they sing in Tigrigna), the group gives us a glimpse of what aERmed Mindz is about; about being the voice of their people. Legacy goes solo armed with lyrical savagery on the cut "Habeshamatic" (a term he coined, inspired by Nas' "illmatic"). This track is full of lyrical assault and a definition of what kind of an MC a "habeshamatic MC" is. There are also other cuts like "Tha Intro", "Peace" and others. It was not a surprise at all that everyone there immediately devoured this tasty album. The album was such a success that it sold out before the end of the festival! It left a great impression on several artists such as Tefeno and the Europe-based Lula Band, who simply said, "This is it!" But, above all, the crowd was definitely pleased with the album and Samson said it best, "It is about time! Now, this is music!" Women, men, old and young, regardless of their musical taste all demanded for this album. The new sound that invaded Toronto's festival by surprise was relayed from Eritrean owned restaurants, to sound beefed up cars, to soccer fields. Perhaps, the best aspect of the album was that both the older and the younger generation found it appealing and that, in any genre of music, is a very rare occurrence. It encompasses the experiences of Eritreans in Diaspora and those in Eritrea. Simply, Dj Shida and Legacy have tapped into something here, they have brought an intriguing sound. Not only have they gained appreciation within the Eritrean community aware of their talent, but has gone as far as having their cut Eritrean Love getting air time on KFSR 90.7, Fresno-based radio station and a spin by local DJs at Fresno Star Palace Club. The chemistry between the two was apparent during the live performances they had at "Secret Nite Club" during the week of the festival. In addition to their musical performances, they also entertained their guests with comedy. www.djshida.50megs.com will have an update on the group, so please visit the two sites frequently. Two tracks from the album "T to the izz E" and "Eritrean Love" are available for listening on www.shimagle.com music archive. The production of the album is accredited to Dj Shida Productions and Legacy Wear. Be on the look out for the upcoming modern clothing line Legacy Wear at the above mentioned sites and www.legacywear.com (coming soon).

Awate Reviews: aERmed MindZ "ER Frequencies"

Awate Reviews: aERmed MindZ "ER Frequencies"
By SAAY Sep 27, 2002
“Yo I got a question, I gotta gotta a question…who rocks you the hardest?”

Remember Lynyrd Skynyrd, the American Southern Rock band from the 70s? In their first album announcing themselves, the “South, By the Grace of God” folks had to clarify themselves and tell the phoenetically-challenged that their name is “pronounced leh-nerd skin-nerd.” Oh. But nobody cared how to write their name when they started blasting “Sweet Home Alabama”, a response to Neil Young’s “Southern Man” (and also the name of an upcoming movie) and then followed it up by a string of hits (Free Bird, etc) until their lead singer became a rock-and-roll cliché when his plane crashed and he died.
But that is not our story today.

We are here to talk about another band with a confusing name, aERmed Mindz. Now, how do you read that? Is it about an ER MED team? Is it…?

You are trying too hard. First, of all, you need not wonder about trying to figure out the name. Listen to the CD. The band is a duo of two
aERmed Mindz
Eritreans that go by that name of Binyam Amanuel and Sennaie Mussie. That’s what their parents call them. You can call them DJ Shidda and MC Legacy, thank you very much. It is Mr. Shidda and Mr. Legacy, if you are nasty. Now, it is written somewhere in the Ten Commandments of hip-hop bands (same commandments that order rappers to hold their crotch in public and swear like a sailor) that you must utter your name in vain, in a CD, about 85 times. It is called “represent.” And these kids are all about representing themselves, their band, their CD and Ere. It is all about “representing Ere to the fullest.” Which explains the ER within the word armed. Got it?
And that takes us to the music. Yeah, I called it music. Years ago, it was in 1988, I made a wager with a friend that “rap wouldn’t last more than two years.” My friend hasn’t collected because I argue, lamely, that the “rap” as known in 1988 was that awful break dancing and, since, thank goodness, break-dancing has broken up into oblivion, he owes me the money. And, yes, I used to claim that there is a silent “C” before rap (meaning it is crap) until some wise guy reminded me that the music I listen to, rock, has a silent “C” as well, (making it crock.) So, I am more open-minded now.

Back to Armed Minds or aERmed Mindz, as they call themselves. The most winning thing about the duo is that they are funny. I mean hilariously funny. One can imagine them sitting somewhere, probably in their university library (they are grad students), when the idea hit them: what would it sound like if two older Eritreans, accent and all, were to do a rap song? Wait, wait, what if we set our lyrics to Jay-Z’s “H to the Izzo”? Wait, wait, what if we gave these two older Eritreans the personalities of Beavis and Butthead where they taunt each other and grunt “he-he-heh” “ommm” and, like Italians, add a vowel to every word that ends with a consonant?
The result is Track 5, “T to tha izziE”, a hilarious spoof of older Eritreans, our stubborn accent and our gold teeth. Impersonating an older Eritrean couple, they begin “What you don’t know is we can rap too…abbey aleka anta Haile….you don’t know how to battle!” (Have one of your nephews explain what doing “battle” means in hip-hop.) And it is all downhill from there, speaking in what they call “Tinglish”, a Tigrigna/English hybrid.

“T to the izzie, K to the ele,” goes the chorus. Near as I can tell, that spells out “tezi’ke’li” (Tigrigna for “if only you were able”). You have to listen to the song as they “transition from sga to Hamli” and tell us of their “blichlichin with their sni werQi.”
Hip hop is 50% bragging and 50% taunting. Now, what would an older Habesha guy brag about? He’d brag about his rhymes hitting us like winchif, about having twenty agdos and hdmos, about having more cattle more than you can count (excluding the lost and found), about owning thousands of acres and having cows which are “bigger than the Shaq from the Lakers”. He would taunt us to stick to our mes with brle, that he is the SebHi and we are the Shro, that he is the boss and we are the seraHteNa. The two friends settle their “battle” the way some Eritreans settle theirs: they go to Awetash for some new swa.

Track 6 “Tribute to the legend” is the only song that has the dreaded saxophone. But it is excused because the legend they are paying tribute to is Yemane Baria and his classic “tSeHaina BeriQu,” a song that sounds sadly anachronistic in today’s Eritrea and begs for an update from Yemane Baria. (Politics alert.) The last video we saw of Yemane Baria, he was being welcomed at Asmara Airport by musicians, including Osman Abdurehim, who had moved to Eritrea because he thought “tSehaina Beriku” and now he is in Sweden after he learned that that “tSeHaina Aribu.” Hey, Hey, This is PoliticsFREEZone! Ok, sorry. Dammitt, if the dead-and-gone Tupac Shakur can produce a CD every year from his grave, why can’t we get at least one more from the late, great Yemane Baria?
Back to aERmed Mindz.

Track 7, “Eritrean Beauty,” is a love song with a chorus line of “Eritrean Beauty, Eritrean Love, You Gotta Have It; Eritrean Beauty, Eritrean Soul, You Gotta Love It.” It is the kind of song older Eritrean women will say, “iwiy Shkorey!” due to the combination of the duo’s Americanized Tigrigna accent and the sensitive lyrics. If you are a guy, consider it a public service in learning hip-hop language. For example, you don’t ask a male friend who is attempting to seduce women, “so, did you get her phone number?” No, no, old man. You say, “you got the digits?” And you don’t say, “Does she know you are even alive?” No, no, old man, you say, “was she feeling you?” And he doesn’t say, “yep!” No, no, old man, he says, “No Question About It.”

Track 8 and 9 ("Shijara") are a skit and a rap about the evils of smoking cigarettes. It is probably the kind of song parents will love and kids their age will hate. “Shijara” is the type of rap song that old people would dream up. My guess is many hip-hop fans will be having a cigarette break when Shijara is playing.

Track 10 “Mama Africa” is a tribute to our continent, home of Lucy, not to mention most dysfunctional governments. STOP with the politicking! Ok. There is sampling of an African song, nothing I recognize, unfortunately. It is definitely African: the pounding beat is disco-sized to make it more palatable for conventional dancing. I fast forwarded, so don’t blame me here.
Track 11 “Love From Afar” is a love song where they sample a song from Erica Badou, (that is the lady who wraps the Leaning Tower of Pisa under a shawl over her head.) The song is about long-distance amor, something many Eritreans are familiar with. I fast forwarded that one too.

Track 12: “Habeshamatic” is the kind of song that goes to all “Habesha MCs.” It is a classic rap with a blacksploitation 70’s movie soundtrack sample. The lyrics are what you associate with hip hop bragging: the duo is so bad that when they go underground, the devil begs them to be civil. Well, that’s what aERmed mindZ says and the devil isn’t talking. When they are not annoying the devil, they are slaughtering MCs like chicken…and, when bored, they also pile young MC like house bricks. Hey, it is a young black thang; you wouldn’t understand.

Track 13: “Shida Land.” Even if you don’t listen to hip-hop music, I am sure you have heard of Dr. Dre. D-R-E. The good doctor has a song called “Still.” Still D-R-E. It is about a gangster reassuring his fans that he is still gangster, big pimping and spending the g’z. Representing…well, I don’t know what he is representing but the kids at aERmed minds “sample” the entire song and “represent Ere to the fullest.” This is where they tell us that “the message be the realest and the beat be the illest.” How real is the message? “The one in MetaHet…stamping his feet on Kessela’s Hamed?” It comes from a duo who, they tell us, is “blessed with this lyrical curse?” Nice.
Track 14: “Remember Me”. Here’s where they feature someone with a sweet voice named Elak. Unfortunately, I fast forward through that, too. Which is a shame because Elak is unusually talented…But, if you are not an R&B fan (and I am not), life is too short to listen to the baby-baby nonsense of rhythm and blues. Besides, there is always Track 15.

Track 15: Adey Etay. The duo take a radio character from Asmara, Adey Etai, and, in a hilarious spoof, they have her saying things she would never say in a million years. Adey Etai calls a radio station and tells us that she would like to give a “shout out” (shut out, is how she says it) to her friends “Gebrai, Keshi Teklay, Zewdi Mahazai… Saleh Yehdego…..selam, selam…” Before she tells us her request (the next song, of course) Adey Etay tells us that she used to listen to Bob Marley, Michael Jackson and she reveals that when she was younger, she used to go to clubs and say, “Back That Thang Up!” Yes, Sennai, that is toooo much information.
Track 16: “ER frequencies” In addition to being Adey Etay’s request, ER Frequencies is the CD title song. Who doesn’t like ER, they ask. Wela Hade, they respond. With a low-fi Malcolm X sounding faint rally in the background, a spare drum machine blares with the DJ scratching and the lyrics, are about PEACE. Selam iyu….Amen.

Track 17: “AIDS”: Once again, a radio skit with a caller named Hadish asking if he can get HIV Virus through saliva (because his girlfriend is “TefTaf”) and wondering where he can get a “kalsi” that can fit him, because he can’t seem to find any his size. The cruel guys advise him to make sure he doesn’t buy a “Made In China” merchandize.
Track 18: “Pass Me The Mic” is a take on a song by Nas “All I need is one mike” (At least that is what I am told by a much younger and hipper nephew.) The music is Indian—the subcontinent, not the Native American--and the lyrics are psychedelic (“move to the light, strike, ripple the lake, and wake the sleepy knight”), Afro-revolutionary (“just a matter of derivatives, AK by the millions sold to Africans…”) and retrograde: lamenting the turn hip-hop has taken for the worse… Deep, coming from twenty-something kids.
Language? PG rated. I was going to say G rated but there is one reference to a girlfriend who hopes for a ride on the camel and he says, no problem, if…

Binyam and Sennai are products of Eritrea’s migratory nature: comfortable with Tigrigna, Tigre and Arabic. One of the songs, Track 4, is called “Hitata”: Tigre for she is the oneThis also explains why a dusty, small, smelly, hot, humid, suffocating town with an open sewer line (Kessela, Sudan) is recalled by them with such fondness. In one song, they even say “Kessela Kool!” Whatever you say, guys. Heh-heh, ummmm, ehhhhhh.

This is one funny CD. Buy it; don’t burn it. Save your CD burners for the multi-billionaire artists, like Dr. Dre, who can afford it. (aERmed Mindz: when sampling, please credit your sources.) Where else are you going to learn about rhymes that can hit you like “Winchif”? Where else can you learn put-downs that they are the tSebHi and you are the shiro? They are the boss and you are the SeraHtegna? That you should just stick to your Mes with your brle? You can get a copy of the CD from one of the finest Eritrean websites, http://www.shimagle.com/ or contact them at (717) 232-1741. Email them at aERmed_Mindz@yahoo.com (underscore between aERmed and Mindz.)

aERmed Mindz - The Eritren hip-hop group Now avaialble on mall.asmarino.com
To listen the entire sample Audio collections click here

Awate Reviews: aERmed MindZ "ER Frequencies"

to listen to aERmed Mindz CD click on the link

We rhyme with accent thicka than hanza