Review: Temple’s Hip Hop Cred Shines Across “We Are Who We Are”
Temple stays true to his hip hop background on his features heavy album.
“Chale, my tape go drop soon… E lef some few things to work on”. I can count the number of times Temple had assured me of his impending album release whenever we had crossed path. One thing I’ve come to realize in the music space especially with artists who are pursuing the DIY (Do It Yourself) agenda is, you take your finger off the pressure button. In due time, they would make good on their words.
So, with Temple, I was very hopeful he would come good on his assurances. It was a matter of when. So, when “Bars For Days” was released as a single, it became quite clear he’d deliver. “We Are Who We Are”, the 9-track, hip hop centred album is Temple’s latest offering to his fans and hip hop loving folks. One of the foremost projections on “WAWWA” is Temple’s own hip hop credentials- a hip hop head who is not afraid to conspicuously wear the colours of the genre he loves.
With “Bars For Days” opening the tape, Temple, a member of the Neo-Spirituals, a collective of independent artists from different creative pursuits rolls the red carpet for the listener. “They say/ Why do a tape, you throwing bars away/You dey worry bro/I got bars for days/Bars of rage/Nah, not today”, he raps, each lyric dropping like a ton of brick on the ear of the listener.
This lyrical confidence spreads across all the tracks. “We Are Who We Are” is an abridged autobiography of Temple’s life and journey in the pursuit of his musical career. Mainstream wise, Temple’s name might not be out there. However, within the corridors of hip hop lovers especially the non-mainstream, he’s a known voice. In 2019, he would, along with his collaborative partner Yaw P receive an award for their film “Acropolis” directed by BreadNyfe in France.
Though tales from his life provides the story arch on WAWWA, Temple fills it with inspirational bulletins as heard on “Go Get It”, “Tie My Shoes”, “Kom Ye (Be Quiet) featuring AkAN with lyrics like “anyone who doubted me, I made them a believer” and “All black, we preparing for your funeral/Walk around while I grab my genitals”, and “Poseidon” with its laid back jazzy feel is reminiscent of hip hop from the Soulquarians era.
Raps over the beats aside, Temple picked his features based on long-standing affiliations. Kay-Ara, Ko-Jo Cue, Fricky, Quayba, Ian Jazzi, Kirani Ayat and Mawcom X are artists he knows very well. Bringing them onboard was based on the respect he has for them as rappers as well as what they bring to the table in terms of complementing his style. Hearing Jean Feier, whose music usually falls under the RnB/Soul genre trading rap bars with Temple and Worlasi’s hook on “Tie My Shoes” are two of the best moments on the album. The producers who worked on this project crafted beats that could be enjoyed even without lyrics over them.
The hip hop scene has been kicking, holding its own against the ever-rising tide of afropop. Some hip hop acts have found it prudent to harness some afropop inflexions in their songs as they try to earn mainstream attention. For Temple, albeit some of his beats had afrobeats incorporated on them (e.g. Tie My Shoes, Kom Ye, Makola), there is no clear crossover record to push his name within the throes of the mainstream radio. (I know some would question the essence of radio in the era of streaming. The verdict is out though).
“You for go through the most, to sit on the throne”, Temple asserts. Temple has seen it all- walked the cold streets, made sacrifices, believed in himself. The immediate result is “We Are Who We Are”, a bold declaration that hints at defiance and self-belief. Bet, more is on the way. (Stream the album)