24 Feb 2024

Review: The First Fist to Make Contact When We Dap by R.A.P. Ferreira & Fumitake Tamura

From The Sampler, 2:30 pm on 24 February 2024
The First Fist to Make Contact When We Dap cover art

Photo: Bandcamp

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Last year the Rolling Stones’ guitarist Keith Richards was quoted as saying “I don’t really like to hear people yelling at me and telling me it’s music, a.k.a. rap,". This really stuck in my craw, because what that band’s singer Mick Jagger does could far more accurately be described as ”yelling” than most of what’s come out of the world of hip-hop.

The “at me” part of the quote was interesting too, and perhaps unintentionally telling. Certain people have been feeling personally aggrieved by rap music for 50-plus years now, despite the genre’s expansion into plenty of non-confrontational arenas.

One example that’s making an impression this year was recorded by a Japanese producer, when visited by an American MC, with the results being poetic, psychedelic, and easy to listen to.

That's Tennessee lyricist R.A.P. Ferreira, collaborating with Fumitake Tamura. ‘47 Rockets Taped to my Chair’ has the subheading (for Dr Refaat Alareer); a Palestinian writer and professor. 

Which might give you an idea of where the rapper is coming from, and how seriously he takes it. In the liner notes to this album, The First Fist to Make Contact When We Dap, he mentions “there are adults our age who have dedicated their whole lives to torture and murder”. He says that in the middle of a joyous description of his time in Japan, and might mean it literally, or might be swiping at certain other rappers.

One of many boasts about his lyrical prowess is “this flow would befuddle an AI”, and the track ‘Jes’ Grew in Osaka’ has a few more doozies: “stress is a symphony I conduct whimsically”, and “I take the word and make spectacle”. 

It turns out this collaboration was masterminded by a luminary of the beat genre. Daddy Kev started the legendary club night Low End Theory, which pioneered the L.A. beat sound, and has mastered albums by every notable musician within it: Flying Lotus, Tokimonsta, Teebs, and on and on. 

It was Kev who asked Ferreira if he wanted to join him on a trip to Japan, and once there, the rapper connected with producer Fumitake, who he’d been a fan of for ten years. The results of their meeting run from relatively old school beats and rhymes, to more exploratory cuts like ‘Medicinal Hymn #77’.

This is an album I initially thought was just a pleasant listen with a particularly dexterous rapper, and a few cosmic flights of fancy. But reading R.A.P. Ferreira’s expansive liner notes, which detail his time in Japan, and a joyous working relationship with Fumitake Tamura, added significance, and underlined how this genre is still expanding.

He says the end result “encapsulates [his] vision of rap music. It is free. It is international. It is beloved”