Visions of the Sun
*Local Record Review: 'Time' by Immortal Minds
*Local Record Review: 'We Are Locally Grown' by Locally Grown Collective
*Local Record Review: 'The Radical Era' by Sacred Blasphemy
The SanTana-based hip-hop collective of field warriors known as Cham Kerem are shining light on realities others would rather have remain in the dark. The five-member crew recently released their debut effort, Visions of the Sun, offering fourteen tracks (plus a bonus cut) of unrelenting, unapologetic rebel rhymes. Ghost Dance, iLLoheem, La Pavis, iLL Sal and Rethro hit up racism, police brutality and immigration interchanging bilingual lyrics all along the way.
The crew name comes from a Mexican indigenous language and translates into “dead children” or niños muertos. Where as other rappers might want to focus on the trite, Cham Kerem sees the wrongs of the world and seeks to make them right. “If you're ready for a sanctuary city in Santa Ana / hands in the air” proclaims the intro of “SanTana to Arizona.” Other stand out tracks like “Street Constellations,” “Waking Up” and “The Way We Survive” display competent flows over underground beats. A SanTanaheim collaboration rips incoming PRI Mexican president Enrique Peña Nieto as a fraud with an assist from Sacred Blasphemy.
With the contributions of La Pavis, OC finally hears a much needed mujer on the mic. Cham Kerem also pens some of the catchier choruses on the local scene that will stick around in listeners' heads. On “The Way We Survive” Pavis sings, “Sometimes we laugh / And sometimes we cry / In this ghetto struggle / We keep on moving by / Sometimes we live / Sometimes we die / La resistencia / Is the way we survive,” before iLLoheem furiously spits:
“Some profit from war / And worship the gun / My people respect the connection / With the Earth and the Sun / Manipulate your perception / Eddie Bernays / Propaganda dressing up demons like saints.”
Describing itself as 'low-budget revolutionary peoples hip hop,' there's some rough edges on Visions of the Sun to be sure. The crew is fully immersed in the struggle, after all. In fact the album arrives with a particular sense of urgency. Rethro, who was just released from ICE detention at Theo Lacy, has his deportation case coming up next week.
All donation proceeds from Visions of the Sun go towards the legal effort in ensuring the only transfer he sees is to Cal State Fullerton, remaining in OC with his family.
Cham Kerem opens for Ana Tijoux, Los Rakas, and 2Mex at the Constellation Room of the Observatory, 3503 South Harbor Boulevard, Santa Ana, www.observatoryoc.com. Sun, 8 P.M. $15. All Ages.