For those that have been reading this blog since my re-beginning, you might remember my very first feature, which included today’s subject – Charles Vann (budding comedic writer / comedian) aka SelfSays (talented hip hop artist). Me and Charles go back before the new millennium. I knew him when his only known recorded song was on a DJ Defiant mix project. He rapped over J Dilla‘s “F#@k the Police” instrumental and his contribution was one of the better ones on that puppy. Mind you, no animals were harmed in the creation of that effort.
Anyway, the rapper known as SelfSays is one of Michigan’s best. His knack for bearing his soul in a way that makes even the most awkward of detached individuals understand his angst is – for lack of a better word – AMAZING. Hip hop heads may quickly liken his cadence to Juggaknots’ member – Breezly Brewin. Interestingly enough, Brewin is one of Self’s favorite eMCees, but he’ll be quick to let you know that he has many influences. I remember hanging with him and listening to him gush about rappers like Illogic and Vast Aire, so I know that if anything, he loves rappers that have a way with words. All I know is that a lot of people like to claim influences and do not show any real absorption of their influencer’s best traits. Well, SelfSays pens raps as good, if not better, as most of his heroes and peers.
For example, I’d like to highlight two of his tracks on his recently-released free EP: Something Out of Nothing
First, we have the song “Parting Gifts,” which in my mind comes off more like Pardon Gifts after really listening to what he says:
A piece of heaven might be a slice of pie
for that guy who hasn’t ate in a week
who found heaven in the strength of those perceived to be weak
try to stay humble in me
remind me of a time when he didn’t know where he would sleep
The imagery alone puts pressure on my heart. I mean, I have a bias – sure – but you cannot deny the way he delivers this piece that it is not unique and special. There aren’t many folks that can rap like Charles.
Let’s review my favorite song on the EP – “Sleeping Beauty,” produced by a good friend of mine Alex Richard aka Beatmongers.
It’s that time again tonight
When you figure out how much booze it takes to turn into prey
And does she made the grade?
She goes from A to prey
I mean, hey, that’s the way they’ll see you anyway
The beat already is haunting enough, but Self is the Vincent Price of this Thriller. The way he paints the girl in this song, his former love interest, is the most intense way to really get to a person. If I knew this song were about me, I’d … yeah – no reason to go there, just the beginning of the second verse:
She know what she wants
She wants revenge on humankind, uses her vagin(a)
to get that payback like a JB’s playback
wanna be loved then wanna be fucked
one and the same, be jaded as what
nothing makes sense to the brain
stress developed the gut
nice girl turned into – uh – cause I don’t care anymore
I hope you find yourself when you fall asleep into your dreams.
The one thing you will notice is that this will be one of the shortest-playing 8-song extended-players you will find on the internet. SelfSays prefers getting in and getting it all out. He can do more in 20 bars than most wordy rappers do in 48. Pay close attention to the two-parter “Real Life.” He pulls no punches regarding his forays with therapists and prescription meds. It’s obvious that the real therapy happens when he writes. Funny thing about it, we might all be better because of it as well.