Album: Bob Vylan – Humble As The Sun

Bob Vylan’s blending of punk, hip hop, and rap with their constant songs consistently identify problems and social ills while still preaching positivity and solutions and hope should be the top of everyone’s list of must listen albums. What Carsie Blanton is doing for folk music and Faintest Idea is doing in ska, Bob Vylan is doing in punk, hip-hop, and rap, and reaching audiences all over the world. This feels like it should be the future of punk music to come.

The album begins with “Humble As The Sun”, a song about loving yourself, while also indicating the music industry and more. Opening the album with “It’s easy to say I love you when you hate yourself” Vylan goes into struggles overcome and how he rose to a place where he learned to love himself. The song includes a lesson from his father to never let others dictate who you’re going to be, because others will make you into who into whatever serves their interests, but the song also throws in this lyric about black artists struggling through exploitation “Now watch me as I fight back for every reggae artist that never got their rights back- that died broke and hungry on that island of Jamaica- while someone at Island Records made a killing off the right tracks- fuck that”. The song closes with the message to “shine, black man, shine”. Even if you hadn’t heard any Bob Vylan albums before, it’s immediately clear that the punches lie in the lyrics and the music is just the vehicle for their delivery, adding the rhythm to get the words stuck in your head so you don’t forget the message.

Song after song is an indictment against those that get rich off the poor. Reign has a reference to a news clip talking about how the death of the queen makes the cost of living and energy crises seem insignificant- to which Bob Vylan appropriately responds “what do you mean insignificant, motherfucker, we’re still alive”. The chorus to GYAG repeats “It’s cold out here, and the games they’re playing ain’t fun, landlord just raised the rent, better get yourself a gun”. In other songs there are lyrics about moldy walls, leaky pipes, busted furnaces, and landlords getting rich and raising rents.

While attacks on the capitalists exploiting the poor are common through the album, there are also plenty of lyrics calling out comfortable liberals. Lyrics like “Yesterday we were too extreme, now they hashtag and raise a fist” and “You can read Karl Marx ‘til you’re blue in the face, but if you’ve never left the house with a tool by your waist and your shoes tightly laced, because the feds might give chase…”, “don’t you chat to me about the rising of the working class, it’s long overdue I know but we’re too busy working hard” drive those points home and they don’t stop there. In “Hunger Games” they go after liberal politicians who show up to preach in election season, but don’t dare come around at night or any other time of the year.

Those are far from the only social ills calls out on the album. “He’s a Man” is an entire song dedicated to calling out toxic masculinity. They also call out the culture of monetizing people’s struggles. “The worst days of our lives will provide great entertainment, but I won’t tune in and watch us chase it. We’re made for more and I say we take it”

But like I said in the beginning, the album isn’t just about calling out social ills or finding problems. The album is hopeful, and about learning to love yourself, with lyrics like “Let the sun shine upon my face who would’ve thought my dark skin would brighten up the place”. “Dream Big” is an entire track dedicated to striving for better things and reminding you that the only reason people try to limit your dreams is because they never made it. My favorite self-affirming lyrics on the album are “Do my locs make ya nervous, good- you deserve it. Appetite for chaos- I, Venus, serve it. So handsome, so perfect, Humble As The Sun, ancestors worshiped”.

This album has everything I want, in a punk album. Great beats, social and cultural awareness, strong attitude and message. It goes hard and makes you want to sing along. I’m gonna close with an entire verse- the last verse from Hunger Games. Every song is powerful, and you need to go listen to the whole fucking album. Stream it. Buy it. But if for some insane reason you choose to read my entire review and not listen to the music, I want you to read this message.

You are more than your take home pay
Making barely enough to make it through the day
I know, I know, I know
You are more than your ability to earn
You are more than your future successes
You are here, you are now
Surely, your existence is testament
To the successful lineage from which you were arrived
Here, now
You are stronger than you think you are
You are love
You are not alone
You are going through hell, but keep going
Be proud, be open
Be loud, be hopeful
Be healthy, be happy
Be kind to yourself
Be decisive
Here, now
Do not live every day as if it is your last
Live every day as if it is your first
Full of wonder and excitement
As you wander along, excited
Marveling at the possibilities of all that stands before you
Here, now

Written by Gimpleg