If you keep tabs on the national hip-hop scene, odds are you’ve noticed the same thing I have lately – the mainstream is feeling remarkably unmuscular. Gone are the big beats and bravado that once dominated hip-hop’s best cuts; in their place, a rather trite brand of minimalism is becoming an increasingly commercialized force. On the underground side of the game, a player by the name of Bruce Lii isn’t standing for the trend, but cutting something a little heavier in his new single and music video “The Promised Land,” which ranks as one of the harder-hitting tracks I’ve listened to recently.
Instead of giving a consistent, two-minute juggernaut of a performance in “The Promised Land,” Bruce Lii is out to present this material with a little more panache – and almost no indulgence whatsoever. Modulating his delivery at different verses, he makes it impossible to evade the striking notions of the lyrics, specifically with regards to the swagger they’re packing around every twist and turn in the rhythm. Confidence is swelling from these words greatly due to the instrumental framework this player has so clearly put together by hand, and his attention to detail can certainly be credited for this song’s long-term success.
“The Promised Land” rocks a really smooth bassline, and it’s one that isn’t lacking in depth or physicality by any measurement. Now, don’t get me wrong; I’m not suggesting that every rapper around has to strut to Ludacris-style lines, but there’s something to be respected about an artist like Bruce Lii who is able to work out some of the bigger grooves his predecessors once tackled in the studio. There’s a lot of fight in this kid – arguably more than a lot of the more heavily buzzed players coming up in his scene at the moment – and he wants us to feel the weight of his words in this piece.
The music video for this song doesn’t push the lushness of the hook too much, mostly because I think its visuals do enough to invite a tasteful dose of excess to the pot. Confidence once again proves to be the key element in the video, much as it is the source material, and I would even say that it’s hard to step away from the visuals in this release without feeling excited from the subtext of what we’re seeing. There’s moxie in these moves, and it’s not coming from cosmetic frills exclusively.
A searing contribution to what was undeniably a really smart summer soundtrack in hip-hop, Bruce Lii’s “The Promised Land” is a quality single and music video that highlights the primary reasons why I think this artist is only going to gain more ground on the competition as time goes by. Yes, it’s true that he’s coming into the spotlight at a moment in the history of rap that is experiencing a greater influx in talent and tenacity than ever before, but with the chops he has in “The Promised Land,” I believe he’s going to go as far as his ambitions can carry him.
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