2017’s cup runneth over with good music, of all kinds.
From fun to enlightening. From singing to rapping.
From our hometown to yours and everywhere in between, we are dedicating the month of December to reviewing and reflecting on the music that helped make this year so important.
One time a friend recommended a song to me. Actually, a friend played a song for me. As loud as possible. Then just sat back, smiled and nodded. The song was Railroads Down/Unfinished by Eric Biddines and Eric Biddines had a new fan. That was about four years ago. In January of this year Biddines released “The Local Cafe”, an album that is more impressive with every listen. An album that has quietly grown with me through every season. I often wondered why I quickly became such a big fan of Biddines’s music and how that fandom was able to multiply with every step of his career. Experiencing “The Local Cafe” made that wonder build and build until it hit me, it wasn’t a why or a how. Just a what. What continues to set Eric Biddines apart is a mastery of creation that facilitates a safe space for being yourself.
Great music is a force. Eric Biddines is an exceptional conduit of that force; “The Local Cafe”, a tremendous concentration of it. From beginning to end, “The Local Cafe” is an impeccably executed display of Biddines’ ingenuity and ability. Through narration of history, influence, first hand experience, imagination and forethought, Eric Biddines created a place that is both consistent and ever evolving; the local cafe.
Sumn To Say and Towns First Storm open “The Local Cafe” with a stark look at the place Eric Biddines calls home. First through the voice of a news anchor “study shows more Florida children are living in poverty, and the problem is worse in Palm Beach County...”, a mother and a frustrated lifelong Florida resident followed by Biddines’ quick, abundant flow. A flow so deeply rooted in who he is that trying to describe it would be an injustice. Just when “The Local Cafe” set things up for a fast-paced, lyrical offering, Biddines begins to narrate in a slow, purposeful voice. Storytelling at its finest. It felt like watching a movie and reading a book at the same time, while somehow absorbing both. From really, really rapping his ass of to narrating and all of the sudden singing on Towns First Storm, “The Local Cafe” uses an array of dope elements to showcase Biddines’ extensive range, straight out of the gate.
I should mention that everyone listening would be best served by throwing any preconceived notion of “The Local Cafe” out the window. Peeuurrnn, Whole Truck, Worried Bout, one of my favorites, and Classic Cars (featuring Kendra Williams) create a confident, fun, truly southern, truly Florida listening experience complete with heavy bass and Biddines’ distinct delivery. If they don’t make you bob your head, I can’t trust you. On the other hand Railroads Down 3, 20 Dollar Loan and Wrong Path (also featuring Williams) provide unadulterated insight into and evaluation of home, the ugly parts of home. Even then, Biddines is never far away with an offering of his calm narration and always forward looking attitude. Rushing Forever (another one of my favorites), Coffee Love, Fly Butter and Lavender Candles make up an array of unique perspective on romance and love, each different in their own way, all equally transparent and representative of Biddines' genuine personality.
Blvd Pimpin and One Thing (featuring Blaine) are two of my absolute favorites; the transition from the first to the next is something to marvel at. Each features nearly contradictory content, I mention them together because of this. Blvd Pimpin is a smooth, funky trip alongside Biddines in a three piece suit. Gliding down the avenue. It stirs up everything there is to love and desire about the fulfillment that the feel good, opulent aspect of the south offers. Without delay I get to feeling myself, ready to go stunt on the boulevard when One Thing happens. Idled at a red light, approached by a homeless man asking for spare change, Biddines presents the realistic reciprocation of gliding down the boulevard. The reality of being broke, financially and spiritually. If you don’t wanna starve you gotta play your part. Biddines’ perfectly balanced combination of rapping and singing is complemented in fine fashion by Blaine’s multifaceted feature. (I am going to go check his music out, by the way because he killed that.) It’s hard to express how much I love One Thing. The raw emotion caught me off guard after experiencing Blvd Pimpin, a direct example of the equal and opposite force that fires my overwhelming appreciation of southern hiphop; specifically of Eric Biddines and “The Local Cafe”. Praying Mantis closes “The Local Cafe” with a forceful but uncomplicated classic hiphop sound; a sound that provides room for his strong, confident flow to become the main instrument. The final moments of “The Local Cafe” find Biddines singing acapella, stopping to assess his verse and finally deciding,“I’m not gonna use the last verse, scratch it”. Listen closely to the very end and you’ll hear him ask “you wasn’t recording was you?”. I am so glad he was recording.
Whether it is confidence or comfort, Eric Biddines is able to convey every reality of the human condition effortlessly. His presence and purpose throughout the album are always changing. “The Local Cafe” frames the idea that nothing in life is static. Everything consists of variables and we are always changing. Consistently evolving. Just like "The Local Cafe", just like Eric Biddines. Just like a local cafe. Always here. Always going to be here. With the best cup of coffee you ever had. But never the same as it was yesterday. Or even this morning. All the places that make you feel welcome and wanted no matter what kind of day you’re having, that’s your local cafe.
Through his music Biddines’ proves that nowhere is too far to travel if you know where you come from. Our local cafes are a foundation. They are home base. They are the inspiration to go to other plants and tell them how dope your local cafe is. “The Local Cafe” quietly grew with me. Quietly because much like home or any familiar place, it’s presence is known without the need for reminder. A place to go for advice, to vent or nurse a hangover. It is all encompassing and accepting. "The Local Cafe" is a story. It is a place. It is a therapy session, a reminder of the past, inspiration for the future and reason to fall in love. Nothing is off limits or out of place. There is never reason to be anything but yourself, here. As comfortable as it is, “The Local Cafe” is also a reminder that a place this wonderful wasn't build and doesn’t exist on it’s own. These places we desire to be where we are accepted, loved and challenged to fulfill our purpose have to be appreciated, maintained and provided growth. For our local cafes to be present and helpful, we have to be present and helpful. Through his presence, constant support and representation Biddines' is what it looks like to help keep your local cafe in business.My most treasured part of “The Local Cafe” is that it’s real. It is real through the music Eric Biddines creates. It is real through the way I feel when I hear it and it is real through what you are reading.
Go spend some time with Eric Biddines and “The Local Cafe” at your own local cafe. Stay out of Starbucks, indulge yourself in the beauty and power of your community without the haze of the world. Your local cafe is representative of who you are, inspired by where you come from, focused on where you want to go and confident that you will get there. Consistent. And ever evolving.