When: Wed., Sept. 5 2012
SOUL KHAN Soul Khan makes music to save your life. That’s a tall order for a bespectacled, nebbish, rockin’ junior-high-science-teacher look, but the Brooklyn MC has the smarts, heart and cojones to make it so. A cofounder of underground hip-hop collective the Brown Bag AllStars, Soul Khan rose through the battle-rapping ranks with his raspy baritone, witty rhymes and ferocious metaphors. Six million-plus YouTube views later, he’s left the freak fame of battle rap behind, concentrating on honest, insightful lyrics, deliberate diction and pop craftsmanship. The swagger of old remains, as when Soul Khan boldly jacks circular, neo-classical piano into the aggressive rap of “Soulstice 3,” but the result is emotive and yearning, not boastful. The title track of the current Wellstone EP welds Soul Khan’s agile pop with uplifting, life-affirming rhymes. Here, the Grass Roots’ chestnut “Live for Today” is not just sampled, but it also serves as a springboard for a protest anthem that traces a clear line to the old-school agit-pop of “Eve of Destruction.” With songwriting this dexterous, it’s easy to tune into Soul Kahn’s transformative message, and the life you save may be your own.