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The Death of Frequent Flyer

Psalm One

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Album Review

Mainstream female rappers are few and far between, and underground female rappers are even less common. Add this to the fact that Christalle Bowen, or Psalm One, doesn't only rhyme about her sexual prowess and her love of expensive things and you've got yourself something pretty unique, even rare. Over perfect underground beats — melodic without being too poppy — Psalm One spits about growing up in Chicago ("The Nine"), wack MCs (including female ones, emphasized in "Prelude to a Diss" and "Rapper Girls"), her previous day job as a scientist ("chemistry's feeding me, cuz I charge much less for my two EPs" goes the hook in "The Living," also echoed in "Beat the Drum"), and or course, her love of hip-hop ("Peanuts") with a smooth but punctuated flow, a bit like fellow Midwesterners and Rhymesayers labelmates Blueprint or P.O.S. Psalm, like any self-respecting rapper, makes sure to rep her hometown, but she makes sure she still maintains her own identity as well. "I ain't Com, I ain't Kanye," she says in the excellent title song, which features a verse from producer, MC, and Del sound-alike Thaione Davis, who uses cartoonish strings and crackling, quirky percussion to set the pace of the track. On "Macaroni and Cheese," the Chi's musical heritage is paid tribute to in Overflo's blues guitar-laden beat (which, it must be said, is practically identical to the one on Jay-Z's "My 1st Song') that meshes with gospel cries and a smoky bassline. Here, the rapper uses a cadence (again similar to Jay-Z's)that almost seems borrowed from the playground, which contrasts nicely with its more adult themes, and makes the track swing and swell. Psalm One is a witty, talented lyricist who's not afraid to reveal personal information ("lost 60 pounds") as well as brag about her own skills ("my flow hits your po' brain like government cocaine/I'm propane, you no name"), which are certainly numerable. Trying to break into the hip-hop world is never easy, especially when you're one of the few women in an extremely male-centric genre, but with The Death of Frequent Flyer, Psalm more than proves that she deserves to be there, and that all other MCs should watch out.

Biography

Born: Chicago, IL

Genre: Hip-Hop/Rap

Years Active: '00s

Chicago rapper Psalm One was born Christalle Bowen in the Windy City suburb of Englewood, where as a teen she sang in her church choir and studied a variety of musical instruments. She discovered hip-hop in middle school, witnessing fledgling rappers like Common and All Natural at local events, and while studying chemistry at the University of Illinois, she made her performing debut at a student union showcase. Adopting the moniker Psalm One, Bowen recorded her 2001 debut EP, Whippersnapper, during...
Full bio
The Death of Frequent Flyer, Psalm One
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