Eighteen years ago, a younger version of me defied the paranoid wishes of my parents to stay away from downtown Minneapolis by making the one-hour trek to the First Avenue Mainroom to check out my first concert. The only reason I wanted to go was because I heard a track from the headlining band on The Crow soundtrack, but was excited to venture from my sleepy hometown of 3000 people to “the cities” for my first show. While the opening band (hard rock band called Surgery) was forgettable, the second band to take the stage before industrial rockers Machines of Loving Grace was a Rap group named Blood of Abraham. This diverse lineup proved to be foreshadowing for my wide range of musical interests, pushing me into the abyss of musical infatuation.
Having little to no exposure to rap music and the Hip Hop culture (this was well before the birth of the internet and instantaneous file sharing) because of virtually no diversity in my hometown, I was unaware that Rap music could be something other than misogynistic and violent. Then I saw California’s Blood of Abraham, who was touring in support of their 1993 debut release, Future Profits, and knew I stumbled onto something really special.
Not only were they discovered and mentored by N.W.A.’s Eazy-E, the two rappers, Benyad (Benjamin Mor) and Mazik (David Saevitz) were very proudly outspoken about their Jewish faith. Instead of pushing it onto their audience, they highlighted the positives of their beliefs while describing the struggles of growing up around Christians and rednecks that treated them poorly. The record starts off with an intro containing a recorded rant of a Ku Klux Klan member, setting the stage for the attack on bigotry and racism over catchy beats.
Produced by Bilal Basher (Ice-T, Everlast, Divine Styler) and Crazy Town’s Bret Mazur (MC Lyte, Bell Biv DeVoe), Future Profits is full of catchy and bouncy beats that have become characteristic to the early 90’s West Coast conscious rap sound. The first post-intro song, “This Great Land Devours,” sounds like it could be off an N.W.A. record, with a high-pitched whistle loop interwoven with an energetic drumbeat that has a Jamaican dancehall flavor. There aren’t a lot of punchlines present, as most of the focus is on discussing, in Benyad’s words, “This country eats its young, yeah/This great land devours.”
Each track takes stabs at bigots, racists, and all-around haters. They saved the best for last, as the strongest song, “Ni**az & Jews (Some Say Kikes),” is a ferocious, high-energy banger sparked off by a venomous verse from the late Eazy-E. It’s as infectious as it is impactful, with clever lines like: “Ayo mom, guess who’s comin’ to dinner?” Surprisingly, one of will.i.am’s first recorded appearances is on this track, done under the name Willonex.
Another standout is one of the only singles released off Future Profits, “Stabbed by the Steeple,” with the short chorus repeating: “Stabbed by the steeple, scalped by the chapel/The choir’s got my tongue and the preacher’s got my adam’s apple.” It’s a thought-provoking track about imperialistic Christian missionaries, a counter to those fundamentalists that push their beliefs on others while trying to force them to convert.
Whether or not you agree with their religious points of view (I’m agnostic, so whatever…), the combination of their conviction and dedication to their beliefs commands respect. Furthermore, their conscious style of rap fit well alongside other West Coast “alternative” groups like the Pharcyde and Heiroglyphics. Future Profits is a true classic, one that tends to make Hip Hop fans say, “Oh yeah! I forgot all about those guys!” It’s also the first record from anyone to really stand tall for their Jewish faith and to rail against anti-Semites and narrow-minded ideologies. Even though they have been considered a novelty similar to Cypress Hill’s obsession with marijuana, their intelligent writing and awareness shouldn’t be ignored. Regardless of a handful of people comprising their cult following, Future Profits is a cornerstone in the foundation of Hip Hop that deserves a listen.
Written by Andy Giesen
Blood Of Abraham-Stabbed By The Steeple: