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The Arsonists' Flame Burns Again
by:Andreas Lan

As most New Yorkers know, just across the East River lies a hotbed of rap music. The borough of Brooklyn has spawned many of today’s rappers such as ODB from the Wu-Tang Clan, Jay-Z, and Notorious BIG. It has also spawned one of the hottest underground groups, The Arsonists.
The Arsonists are no ordinary hip-hop group. They first tasted success in 1999 with the release of As the World Burns. After releasing a second LP in 2001, they cooled down leaving their hardcore following anticipating a comeback.

Critics agree that the Arsonists are unique in many ways including the themes they explore. Some common themes in hip-hop are “life in the hood,” “chilling with your homies”, and “catching your boy’s back over beef.” The Arsonists go beyond these ordinary themes, and explore unique topics ranging from martial arts to being on a game show. A noted critic from rap.com, a celebrated online hip-hop magazine, describes one of the tracks off their latest LP (Language Arts) as having “some well placed Chinese mandolin samples and some interesting lyrics,” that, “will make this song appeal to the old school Kung-fu fans” (www.rap.com).

In addition to their skill in developing unusual themes, they also excel in producing strong meaningful rhymes and awesome beats. Critic Max Sidman of synthesis.net describes the beats, “produced by Arsonist Q-Unique, are all rugged, jazz-influenced hard jams; in fact, there isn’t a single limp-wristed joint on the record.” The meaningful rhymes can best be seen from the track “Language Arts”: “I've trained in weapons, mic chucks and deadly spinning vinyl, the drunk munk breathing aerosol till I'm a krylon wino, Unorthodox over traditional I may condone it, respectfully bow but never take your eyes off your opponent.”

For the Arsonists, music is not a fulltime job, it is a fulltime life. In other words, The Arsonists live their music. Q-Unique’s former apartment is now his studio; he can eat his breakfast there, smoke there, pass out on the couch there, and make his music there. The Arsonists have recently chosen to take more responsibility for their own work by leaving Matador and forming their own record label. This will give the Arsonists even more liberty in making the kind of music they want.

The Arsonists have impressed audiences all over the northern hemisphere with their showmanship. In Denmark, they have performed in front of crowds of more that 40,000. During the 25th Anniversary of the Rock Steady crew, the crowds surpassed 20,000. Arsonists enjoy being on stage, and they try to provide the crowd with an amazing show each time. They are very responsive to the crowd’s request for encore and never end their show on a short note (if the crowd wants more than the crowd will get it).

They are very enthusiastic on stage and are always making special appearances. In fact, while at a Zion I concert at the Knitting Factory, NYC, Swel 79 of The Arsonists made a surprise appearance, and spat freestyles with Zion I. This performance was an excellent answer to the song “we be about”; Skill, Dedication, and Showmanship is what they are about.

What’s coming up for the Arsonists? They are each dropping some solo material sometime in late 2003 or early 2004, and their third album around the same time. Check them out at their official site arsonists.net.


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