Tota – The Hood Blues @TotaShakur
In “The Hood Blues” visual, emcee Tota takes you on a journey lyrically to describe the encounters that many urban youth and adults face every single day. He takes viewers within impoverished communities that are policed by officers who aren’t from those areas and could care less about the people who live in those communities.
Tota possess a storytelling capability comparable to that of a Nas or J. Cole. He often supplements this storytelling ability with witty, sometimes comedic punchlines. Though not having the most prominent voice he does have a way of making his presence felt through his use of tonality, flow, and cadence. Each track encompasses a different feeling and energy often driven by content filled, sociopolitical messages. The passion and emotion he provides in tracks often leave the listener with the perception that the track was felt more so than heard.
Tota often uses his upbringing and life experiences to take you on a journey into his world. He has a knack for making his experiences feel extremely relative to the listener even if they’ve never had such experience themselves. He tends to be extremely open and forward about his life which often connects and resonates with the listener on a personal level.
Though his sound is immensely different than those who he deems as influences you can still hear the attack of a Kendrick Lamar, the realness of a J. Cole and the comedic wit of a Kanye West whom he gives huge attribution to for molding his sound.
Growing up in the Bay Area, he was submerged in diversity which led to him not noticing the prominent presence of racial inequality until becoming a certain age and actually learning about and experiencing systemic oppression first hand. Finding out later in life that his grandfather was a member of the original Black Panther party, he kicked his studies into overdrive and really found himself. He began to dedicate much of his music to shed light on the war against his people and how oppression has affected urban cities in America. Though not possessing a traditional Bay Area sound, he does not shy away from letting people know where he’s from as he did in his drake inspired track “6PM In Vallejo” where displays his talents delivering bar after bar for an entire 3 minutes.
In January of this year, Tota released his debut project “The Field Effect” which is a politically driven ode about the mentality oppression and racism has created within the black community. It is an open discussion shedding light on the ugly truths of how systemic racism from slavery days, subsequently affects black people now. Tota uses this project to narrate the experiences and trials he and many other inner-city youths have and still face til this day.
With “Never Forget Who You Are” Tota follows his strong conscious debut with an even stronger message.
In this album he touches on depression, oppression, conditioning, happiness, pain and every other emotion you can feel. The delivery is much tighter, and the songs are filled with melodic aggression and soul. Tota really opens up on this album about personal issues in his own life rather than just speaking on social issues like he did in “The Field Effect”. Once again Tota delivers with his witty bars and insane delivery. The cover is a picture of him and his grandmother in which he uses as a reminder of where he comes from and who he truly is. “Never Forget Who You Are” is a note to self that no matter how abundant this life becomes, you cannot lose yourself within it.