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FIGURES OF SPEECH - The Last Word

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Being open to feminine talents was one of the Good Life Café many peculiarities. This scene's best testimony, the Project Blowed compilation, shows this clearly. One of its central tracks, the "Heavyweights Round 2" freestyle, had as many femcees as males. There, Medusa and her cousin Koko – a.k.a. S.I.N. - Nefertiti and T-Love were measuring themselves against Freestyle Fellowship's Mikah 9 and Self Jupiter, Volume 10 and a few others. The record's best song from women, though, was "Don't Get It Twisted". Recorded by Jyant (Ronda Ross) and Eve (Ava DuVernay), a.k.a. the Figures of Speech, it was a perfect sample of the Good Life style, with its erratic and unpredictable music, full of rhythm and flow changes.

FIGURES OF SPEECH - The Last Word

Self-released :: 1992-96 / 2007 :: listen to the album

This track had been, for a long time, the only available music from the duo. No album had ever been released by them, indeed, until The Last Word in 2007. By then, though, both women had more or less stopped their rap careers. This record, actually, was a compilation of songs recorded here and there, between 1992 and 1996, and collected by the producer Omid Walizadeh, one heir of the Project Blowed scene. The hazardous origin of most tracks was quite perceptible, their sound quality being often low, and some tracks like a "On The Road" - actually the hook of a song from The Nonce, sung by both ladies – looked a bit like a filler.

However, most of the tracks had the essential in common: on all of them, the Figures of Speech looked like a feminine version of Freestyle Fellowship. Their music was delicate, jazzy, full of surprises, and sometimes experimental, like with the very strange "Last Minutes". They were equally distant from New-York's boom bap, and California's own g-funk. Both women (one of them, Eve, being a student at the UCLA while attending the Good Life sessions) looked quite literate. Their raps were fast, especially on "Doe See Doe" and "Avoidance", where they had to compete with NGA FSH's supersonic delivery. Their flows were constantly moving and changing; they even sang, sometimes. And they didn't limit themselves to rap music, like when they turned very Jamaican, with Abstract Rude, on "Babylon".

This compilation is a precious testimony of a time long gone. A complementary document, though, was put together by the same time, by some of the same people – Eve, with some help from Omid. This was called This Is the Life, and it was a documentary movie about the Good Life history. Ava DuVernay, actually, had started a career in cinema, under her real name. She would even become famous with Selma, in 2014, a movie about Martin Luther King and the Civil Rights Movement, made with the help of heavyweights like Oprah Winfrey and Brad Pitt. While Jyant would disappear from the radar screens, Eve's career as a director would help her reaching levels of notoriety she couldn't expect as an underground rapper. Thanks to The Last Word, though, her hip-hop past will be remembered.

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