Razor Tongue Media

After 30 Years, Paris Still Holding The Charge On Oppression With Safe Space Invader

Cover of Paris's album "Safe Space Invader" features the rapper imposed on a black and white collage of various images that directly affect Black people.

None can better describe Paris’ new album Safe Space Invader than the writer, producer, and performer himself. As he says in the track Somethin’ Bout the Westcoast, “This hard slappin’ shit is not intended for the nervous”. Released September 25th, 2020, Safe Space Invader continues Paris’ thirty year legacy of unbridled assault upon systemic oppression in America. With a bestial tone and explosive delivery, this San Franciscan emcee promises that the nation’s hypocrisy will be met with a violent uprising.

Distributed by Paris’ own label Guerilla Funk, this album exemplifies the name by serving a militant message over that traditionally West Coast George-Clinton-esque bass line. Listening to this project is like cruising through a fiery war zone in a lowrider. As incensing the issues Paris tackles are, hearing him address them is an oddly cathartic experience.

The opening track is Bang Bang which begins with a dramatization of the Oakland Police department ordering an organized protest to disperse. This postures the listener toward unrest and outrage, but before long, in comes Paris’ lyrics “Bang bang in my lap” presenting him as a vigilante, like the vindicating voice of an infuriated people. Riotous sound effects like gunshots, screams, and engines peeling out are embedded in the song’s rhythm section. These transport the listener to the conflicts in the streets but will keep their head bobbing to the beat.

Much of Paris’ message in this album surrounds his charge to the Black community to mobilize in a manner that is more incendiary than peaceful protests; to match the violence the Black community has received with violence of their own. In the song “Why Reconcile?”, the hook repeatedly retorts “Why reconcile when we ain’t free? F*ck peace!” and in “Press On”, Paris explains “…Protests only placate the people, protests only mitigate response to evil”. This call to insurgence taps into the primal law of justice in vengeance. Paris touts this gospel well.

Also common in this project is a proverbial hit list of public figures, especially political ones. Donald Trump, in particular, is a frequent target and takes some of the most brutal beatings. Though Paris’ contempt for Trump is the subject for at least a couple bars in most of these tracks, it’s fully unleashed in the eighth song of the album, “Baby Man Hands”. Reminiscent of a classic diss track, this song mercilessly brings Trump to task mocking his unusual insecurity regarding his hand size, and reveling in Trump’s COVID contraction with the lyric “How’s that cold treatin’ you?” Like any diss track hip hop heads are accustomed to hearing between Eminem and Ja Rule or Jay Z and Nas, “Baby Man Hands” brings the laughs as well as the pain of one scathing burn after another.

Over the course of the album, Paris grapples with a host of issues including, gentrification, police brutality, systematic racism, inequitable education, and racial appropriation. Paris may maul these problems red in tooth and claw, but this pursuit is not without a sense of hope. Whether it’s the surprisingly danceable groovy breakdown in “Why Reconcile?” or the optimistic hook of “Chain Reaction” which cheers “It all starts with you and me…life is what you make it”, Paris’ message to his people is that there is a freedom on the other side of the battle. He’s just not afraid of the combat to achieve it and he’s certainly not afraid to ruffle any feathers to get there.

This album packs a punch and the beats slap. If you’re game for the intensity, make sure to check out this superb project at the links below and follow Paris on Twitter and Instagram @paris_gfr.


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