In a time when the bastardized label “socially conscious” is applied to
any hip hop artist not inherently rhyming about bitches and hos, what
does the term really mean?  Are you being conscious of your society when
you hock corporate wears or neglect your original aesthetics in favor of
commercial accessibility?  “I’d rather be a standup man, speak loud and
get broke, than keep my mouth shut and ride somebody else’s coat;” or so
flows Rick Whispers on “Workhorse Ethic” from his 2006 album /Awed By
The Backdrop/.  An Albany, New York native, Whispers has, for well over
a decade, delivered bar after bar not of “socially conscious” rap, not
of “indie hip hop,” but of his heart.Truly identifying the independent spirit, Whispers’ roots lie in
skateboard culture, one that is typically misidentified as disenchanted
when in fact it is on the whole largely permissive of other cultures,
ideas, sounds and colors.  “Kids I know skateboarded so that’s what I
got into eventually. Skateboarding in Albany brought me to the monument
in Washington Park a lot and there were always kids freestyling there in
the summer, especially during the festivals that they have there every
year. After going there and watching long enough I just started getting
into ciphers and battling.”  And so it began…
Whispers tackles more than just his emotions when reciting his thoughts
however, priding himself on his straight edge lifestyle he preaches
words of positivity and his songs covering thematic statements of
political distaste and the will to live a clean life.  “Washington is
beginning to look a lot like Oz, voiceless sheep behind curtains dance
to the sound of jihad” Whispers shreds on “Campaign Trails,” identifying
the disheartening shift further exercising itself within the internal
components of the nation’s current administration.  A strong statement,
but not quite as straight as that of “show me a politician and I’ll show
you a fucking liar” from his stomping Black Sabbath sampled
“Vermillions.”When considering the fresh sounds that accompany Whispers’ lyrics it’s
hard to recognize him as an artist outside of the mainstream, outside of
the charts and outside of the clubs.  But when you consider his words,
his pleas and his internal struggles (“The world is manufactured and
made into a movie, i tried to learn the script but it’s starting to
confuse me.) it becomes apparent that Rick Whispers is not, nor will he
probably ever be, a mainstream artist.  Rick Whispers is not looking for
chart success or the freshest beat for the club, he is looking to live
his life the only way he knows how and deliver his words and spirit
through a medium that allows him to express himself best.  As Chuck D
said, “Fresh clean living you don’t stop!” by Chris Deline