Tha Process are a hip hop crew out of Los Angeles. And they are dope!
Every now and then somebody from my “normal” life learns that I make music. It always goes something along the lines of, “You’re in a band? That’s cool! What instrument do you play?”
I always struggle to explain that I’m an emcee, that the only instrument I play are buttons, spliced samples, and spitting rhymes into a microphone. There is always the strange stare. I am, after all, a 30-something, white dad. The look is a lot like I just told them that I am an expert in rhinoceros ovulation. A mix of confusion, revulsion, and odd curiosity.
It’s hard to explain that I’m not really in a “band”, but a crew? A collective? I tell them, “You know? Like the Beastie Boys!” That usually makes them at least be able to categorize what I do into their mental Tower Records.
And while it’s close it’s not necessarily true: Beastie Boys actually play instruments, and have perfected the hardcore turned rapper turned cultural institutions steeze. I’m literally just a guy who started making music late and has always loved hip hop, never took music lessons, but has a ear for music and a big fucking mouth! The description is apt for most the other guys I make music with as well.
Tha Process seem like a crew in same vein. A bunch of party-happy, juvenile-humored, conscious, if not educated, young men with a propensity of running off at the mouth. We cringe at being called musicians because we really know what it takes to make the music we really love. How harmonies, and rhythm, and melody combine to make timeless music that is our inspiration. All we can do is rap your face off.
I wouldn’t call the history of the hip hop crew illustrious, but it has contributed some interesting chapters in rap history. From the original Sugar Hill Gang to the orginators of gangsta, NWA, the crew has been a centerpiece for emcees combining resources and networks to the benefit of all. It’s the Communist party of hip hop. With the lack of bandmates as a resource, we’re inclined to join forces a la the Avengers and take on the world as a unit. This isn’t a history of hip hop crew but my long-winded way of saying that what Tha Process do is part of a time-tested strategy for individually talented emcees to break through.
The best part of a good crew is the live performance. Each emcee jumping over each other’s loosely choreographed bars turns the energy up and inevitably gets the party crackin’. The synergy of living on each other’s couches and sitting in cob-webbed, rat-infested garages, using old screw drivers and beer bottles as microphones during rehearsal, is unmistakeable. Tha Process sounds like they’ve been a crew for a minute, friends at best, but their belief in and the support for each other evidenced in their hype-as-Fuck live shows cannot be faked.
In the vein of Los Angeles hip hop crews Jurassic 5, or Visionaries, Tha Process makes slightly corny but quality party music. See “Frankenstein”. There are poignant moments, like on, “When It Slips Away ft/Kontra”, political moments like on, “Systemic Takeover ft/Destruct”, but the overall feel of “Popsicles and Jungle Gyms” is a feel-good aesthetic. It’s a celebration of the ability to rhyme, real life consciousness, and the narrative of trying to break through the noise of a shitty oversaturated music market. Emcees Thesis, Noearth, and Thawt each bring a distinct variable to Tha Process. #seewhatididthere
While “Popsicles and Jungle Gyms” isn’t revolutionary, it isn’t run-of-the-mill either. It does occupy a branch in the family tree of fun, lyric-based, quality hip hop crews. It doesn't hurt that these dudes are really good guys. But freallies though, you fucking gotta catch these crazy mo-fos live!