Heavyweight Dub Champion
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Heavyweight Dub Champion

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"Album Review - Rise of the Champion Nation"

With it’s ultra wicked black paper packaging complete with a foldout poster describing the “Liberation Process” - a manifesto of post-millennial warrior ethos intent on manifesting the “Universal Totality”, this little mind bomb is clearly designed to be a potent medicine for our current era of pre-apocalypse malaise. Oh yeah, it also features KRS-ONE, Killah Priest, Dr. Israel, and even infamous underground conspiracy (and reptilian alien…) theorist David Icke dropping steady streams of lyrical blitz-bombs on the landscape of mass culture over a backdrop of chest rumbling, pineal gland opening dub/Hip Hop/straight up hard beats, sounds that could easily be mixed into any number of DJ’s sets to seamlessly deconstruct the brittle minds of atrophied listeners.

With principal producer/writers Ressurector and Patch laying down a bulletproof fabric of beats and concepts for their guests to grace, the entire album flows seamlessly through conflict and resolution, desolation and inspiration. “Renegade” boldly announces the program, while “Arrival” allows the might Blastmaster KRS to flex his most highly consciouss lyrical muscle. “Trouble” features Lady K on some deep soul gospel to bring it all back to the roots, while Babylon Beast finds Killah Priest waging war on the unholy fuckery of babylon shitstem. “Warrior Divination” parts 1-3 transmits the sacred knowledge of the liberation process in epic words from A.P.O.S.T.L.E., and “Promised Land” culminates the vision of totality in upliftment and harmony.

A high falutin’ premise indeed, but the Champion Nation succeeds in its intent because the visions of cosmic oneness are grounded in the gritty realities of urban culture and the lyrical poetics of Hip Hop and Dub. If the beats at times are somewhat spartan and minimal, it only serves to ground the electric transmission of thought in a hypnotic matrix of sound that ranges from womblike warmth to bitter cold.

A sonic tonic for the mind, body and spirit, “Rise of the Champion Nation” is a genre crossing testament to the highest aspirations of the human soul. This may not be a perfect masterwork, but the artists that created this gem are certainly headed towards such an achievement with their fierce unity of purpose. Long live the Champion Nation, One Love!!!

By Dave “Corvid” McCallum - Abort Magazine


"Album Review - Rise of the Champion Nation"

The mythology of Heavyweight Dub Champion’s sophomore album, Rise of the Champion Nation, is the sequel that picks up where their 2002 debut, Survival Guide to the End of Time, left off. Champion uses socially conscience and spiritual weapons of words to tell a story whose central plot leads to a philosophical and spiritual revival and a genuine awakening of the human spirit. Each track unfolds as a new chapter as the San Francisco-based collective adds to their elaborate mission first laid out in Survival Guide’s extensive 70-page Last Champion Manifesto liner notes.

Anchored by the stalwart cross-fire rhymes of emcees KRS-One and A.P.O.S.T.L.E., Champion Nation has the drama of an epic end-of-days film that gradually develops as of a character over the span of 15 tracks. The central character is the Last Champion, a protagonist who we follow through various philosophical and spiritual explorations and transformations. Using live and electronic instruments, the production team—Resurrector, Patch, and Totter Todd—mix together dub, ragga, electronica, and subtle colorings of turntablistic trip-hop and rock guitar to create an apocalyptic and epic cinematic soundtrack. It’s this sonic scenery that makes the warrior’s journey and his fist-in-the-sky message bearable and believable. The collective whole of Heavyweight Dub’s revolving cast of collaborating songwriters and emcees—Killah Priest, Stereo Lion, Dr. Israel, MC Azeem—adds the essential elements of character, emotion and uniqueness to each track, providing all the necessary ingredients—hope, anger, rage—for revolution.

From the detailed album artwork and liner notes to the intricate rhymed storylines, Champion Nation is a concept album with direction. But it does drift and confuse at times. And like all epic stories, it has peaks and valleys. One of the few frustrating lows is “Destroy the Industry”. It’s sad to hear such worthy production wasted on lyrics that are determined, but sadly, dated and dismissible.

But it’s the several payoff tracks that make the journey worth it. The redeeming “Trouble”, a spiritual ballad carried by the steady, soulful, and soothing croon of Lady K; Dr. Israel’s nimble and fiery “Rise”; and the adversarial interlude “Villain’s Impasse” keep the momentum going. On “King of the Mountain”, one of three KRS-One appearances, the Blastmaster sets the lyrical benchmark and personifies the righteous m.o. of the Last Champion.

Carrying the rest of the lyrical weight is emcee A.P.O.S.T.L.E. Over percussive break beats on “Warrior Divination”, he rhymes abstract, but still, his spiritual syncopations speak directly and clearly to the heart. He puts his philosophical message into plain English, breaking down the science of spoken word breath by breath, right down to each last firing neuron and dendrite. His style is a swirling and supernatural ethos mixing Eldrige Cleaver, Malcom X, a laid back Chuck D, and a slightly more aggressive Bob Marley. Song to song, his message isn’t pigeon-holed by race or culture, but instead tethered on the theme of universal revelation.

The approach of Heavyweight Dub Champion is a sort of a relaxed aggressive and careful coup. At times, what they’re trying to say is difficult to understand as it shifts between clear motives and ambiguous mysticism. But when it resonates, the mystic ambiguity becomes its greatest strength.

There are plenty of beats, rhymes, and rhythms to soak up as a spectator. But like all inspirational and revolution-style concept albums, The Rise of the Last Champion ultimately puts the responsibility back into the ears and hands of the listener. In the end, Heavyweight Dub Champion has given the listener a soundtrack for their own internal revolution to become the Last Champion—and what you do with the message is entirely up to you. - Popmatters


"Album Review - Rise of the Champion Nation"

While KRS-One in no way defines the new Heavyweight Dub Champion record, Rise of the Champion Nation, his contribution to three tracks deserves special consideration. The man is a pioneer in the hip-hop industry, and he continues to put forth excellent material: 2007's Hip-Hop Lives with Marley Marl but one example, with the following year's Adventures in Emceein' being another. He's stumbled over hurdles before (Spiritual Minded exemplified his preachy tendencies), but here he clears them easily. The bridge he's over.

All in all it's a simple formula: KRS connects. He's got the bravado of Guru and the political awareness of Chuck D, though those two have faltered over the past years, relying on previous fame without the beats to back them up. Yet the man once called Lawrence Krishna Parker (Kris Parker for short) is best when observing and not preaching. His faith in music is more universal and important than his talking about faith during music; the latter has the tendency to segregate, while the former can bring more meaning to everyone. That's the energy he blesses the HDC album with.

Not that that man is a mountain; ground zero is the fierce production throughout this San Francisco-based collective's fifteen tracks. Once the obligatory introduction is over, "Arrival" forces you to involuntarily pump your fist. KRS is joined by the ragga swagger of Stero-Lion, who poignantly appears throughout the album; A.P.O.S.T.L.E.'s moniker is too long to comment on, but his sound isn't: he's dope, and provides some of the best lyrics. This track, which somehow uses an electric guitar tastefully (a feat they repeat, mostly to their benefit), is exemplary of their vibe: a lot going on with plenty of space. They sway their programmed beats well, and punctuate ferociously with bass and kick.

The album's bright spot occurs midway: the ten-minute stretch of "Dawn" into "Rise," both sharing a similar tempo and timbre. While a whole host of characters show up, worth noting is Brooklyn's Dr. Israel appearing alongside his soulful soulmate, Lady K (she appears three times). Doc has long been one of the most inventive reggae artists going; 2005's Patterns of War, which introduced Lady K, still features some of the best lyrics and beats in any reggae effort of the young century. When "Dawn" subsides and "Rise" commences, Kris drops it: "This is not a club/it's a temple that I'm preaching in." And yet, as previously stated: not preachy; the temple is your head stuffed with earbuds. His message, as always, is positive, and combined with the searing soundscape backing him up, rings apocalyptic.

And that's the actual crux of the Champion Nation: a conversion, the ending of an era, a new dawn, and so forth. They borrow dub elements like Dub Trio borrows them (and provoke images like Cormac McCarthy promotes them), adding rock and electronica to their heady (yet not overtly heavy) mix; one clip in their PR bundle correctly dubs them dubtronica. Their message is a fusion of hopeful and bleak, and within that balancing act they seek and often find a musical meeting ground. Often does not imply always. At times the record becomes sophomoric: "Destroy the Industry" is about a decade too late to rage against the machine. The hook: Destroy the industry/Kill the DJ/Burn the radio for the bullshit they play and so on. You could probably guess the rest and be correct. Too bad; the palate of sounds underneath the lyrics is solid. Something similar happens when spoken word interludes emerge, and they often flounder some beats--you don't need drum 'n bass to seem diverse.

While all beats are created by a founding trio--Resurrector, Patch, and Totter Todd--the band is constantly "evolving," with members dropping in and out when appropriate. Their vision is tattooed, dreadlocked, and black; it's dark and hard, steel and concrete and carbon. Still, no great art is unbalanced, and when at their best, this band does achieve greatness. Their hope might feel bitter to the taste, but only because they are correctly reflecting reality. By the glean of their astute and painstaking cultural observations, we are invited to join into their dance. It may require we pound our fists and wave our heads--their trance is fitful, not wistful. If you're willing to step inside the circle, it may well be worth your time. - Huffington Post


Discography

• Album - "Survival Guide for the End of Time"

• Album - "Rise of the Champion Nation"

• Tracks from "Rise" are currently in rotation at college radio.
• "Rise" reached # 29 on CMJ Hip Hop Charts in June 2009.

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Bio


“Heavyweight Dub Champion restores all hope.” – KRS-ONE

Sonic Shamanistic Alchemy - Founded in a log cabin at 9,000 feet in the mountains of Colorado, and now based in San Francisco, California, Heavyweight Dub Champion is a movement of interdimensional warriors representing the Army of the Last Champion. Firmly rooted in hip hop, dancehall, dub and electronic music, and performed on more than 50 channels of vintage analog and digital gear, the band has gained much notoriety and a growing following from its high-intensity and visually captivating live performances. Founder and Last Champion Manifesto author Resurrector transcends space and time wielding an arsenal of deep revolutionary audio with support from a revolving crew of co-conspirators that include Totter Todd, Dr. Israel, A.P.O.S.T.L.E, Jillian Ann, MC Azeem and Stero-Lion. At the collective’s core is the universal intention of inspiration, mind expansion and transformation through creative expression - all of which manifests in their collective artistic performance known as The Liberation Process.

Released May 5th 2009, Rise of the Champion Nation is the highly anticipated, genre-bending new album from Heavyweight Dub Champion. Produced by Resurrector and Patch and recorded over the span of five years on multiple continents, Rise features collaborations with some of contemporary music's most revolutionary-minded vocalists, including the legendary KRS ONE and Killah Priest.

"A sonic tonic for the mind, body and spirit, “Rise of the Champion Nation” is a genre crossing testament to the highest aspirations of the human soul." - Abort Magazine

“This band does achieve greatness.” - Huffington Post

“A shamanistic wall of hip-hop dubtronica that aims to topple the foundations of modern-day Babylon.” – Westword Magazine

"Their genius is the great virtue of 70's dub - never overdoing it." – L.A. Weekly

“Heavyweight Dub Champion blend dub, dancehall, hip hop and throbbing electronics into an intense dance floor beast”. - Festival Preview