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Sound vision
B-Lite drops a multimedia assault

"And the blind shall lead them," sayeth the proverbs. They donít sayeth anything about blind, dipsomaniacal, diabolical, libidinous, felonious, occasionally street-dwelling white "video-rappers." But though heís cursed with less than optimal optical faculties, Providenceís B-Lite is blessed with acute acuity when it comes to seeing through the dolorous ills of the world. And this righteous rhyme-slinger ó who, sans shades, looks a little like a performance artist named Brendan . . . and, come to think of it, weíve never seen him in the same room with Gallic, phallic hip-hopper Pepe Le Gangstair, or wicked wordsmith MC Polynomical either ó wants to squire us out of the darkness and into the Lite. The path of excess leads to the tower of wisdom, and B-Liteís tales of sex on the high seas and satanic seduction, related via spitfire sibilance, ribald rhythmic suggestion, and kaleidoscopic PowerPoint fantasias populated with copulating clip-art cutouts (and closed captioned for the hearing-impaired), are a sort of decadent declaration of conscience.

Because for all his cocksure swagger, B-Lite also exhibits a genuine bewilderment about the sad state of the world. "Introducing B-Lite," the first song on his self-released DVD, Letís Talk About It, is his manifesto, sung over deep grooves and smooth polyrhythms that hearken back to the relaxed electro-flow of groups like the World Class Wreckiní Cru. "I sit around waiting for quittiní time/ sittiní in the office is a waste of rhyme/ ícause Iím young and Iím hip and Iím hearing the beats/ that have me lookiní for love when Iím out on the streets." But itís also his JíAccuse: "I canít turn on the TV for a little relief/ ícause thereís nothiní but ads (and then again I canít see)/ and the radio sucks ícause it just plays news/ and all they talk about is war between the Muslims and Jews/ the president slurs his words like a hick/ heís full of Christian bullshit ícause heís paid by the rich/ now heís started a war and heís on the attack/ and his speeches sound like child-molestiní preachers on crack."

In an e-mail interview from an undisclosed location, B-Lite intimates that those outsized obsidian goggles may be a sort of self-defense. "I do have bad eyes [but] my blindness is more metaphorical," he writes. "I have a hard time seeing the point to things like shooting Arabs in the nuts, war over gas, war over God, driving around all day in a car. I guess I lost my sight when I couldnít see the point anymore."

But B-Lite is hardly a preaching, priggish prude. Accompanied by his trusty Roland Groovebox ("the most revolutionary musical device since Pythagoras plucked a string"), sometimes embroidering songs with sinful synths and voluptuous vocoders, his lyrics are studies in head-spinning hedonism. On "Sea Cruise," he sings of the salty pleasures to be had on bibulous and bimbo-filled ocean liner. On "Curbside Lover," he convinces a series of buxom paramours that lack of bills doesnít mean lack of skills. And on "B-Lite In the Neighborhood," he revels in the glories of grand larceny.

Although one of his hits is a harrowing tale of spiraling depravity titled "Mind-Bending Drugs," drink is B-Liteís vice of choice. ("Pretty much anything with alcohol will do, but when Iím hip to the scene and Iím hittiní the bar, Iím drinking coconut rum with a girl in a bra," he says.) But even that habit seems to stem from a quiet desperation about the globeís sorry state. He boasts about being "ripped to the tits" when heís "kickiní the jams," but also confesses that "itís hard to rap about reality sober. Reality is so sobering that I need to get drunk just to reestablish some sort of equilibrium. The never-ending nebulous hoax we call current affairs makes me so crazy I donít know what to think. Itís like Iím watching the world getting flushed down the shitter ó going up in flames, like a giant one-hitter."

He finds spiritual solace in an unlikely place; his song "Hallelujah" is an upbeat paean, sung in a preacherís Southern twang, to the Prince of Darkness himself (not Ozzy). Of course, Iblis-idolizing is usually the province of heavy-metallers. But B-Lite is not your typical hip-hopper. Indeed itís a rare rapper whoíll name-check academic avatars like Joseph Campbell and James Frazer in explaining his magnetism toward Satanism.

But really, aside from the devil-worshipping and the debauchery, B-Lite is a just a regular guy. And donít dare call him disabled. Blindness "doesnít hinder me," he says. "I only have four senses but theyíre sharper than shit ó and I only need one to put your ass in a split."

In his anti-anthem "Slacker-B," B-Lite casts aside the pittance-paying wage-slavery thatís kept him in shackles and embraces la vie boheme. But mistake that for indolence at your peril. B-Lite is in the early stages of a multimedia assault on an unsuspecting populace.

"Iím going to start by dropping an A-Bomb on America, thatís an Advertising Bomb," he writes. "The B-Lite PowerPoint show is going to be broadcast on televisions across America to teach the poor in spirit that there are sharks in the water and theyíre looking for food, so if life gets crazy come and hop on my cruise. Then Iím going to follow up with a T-Bomb, which is a Talent Bomb, and my sea-cruise will have you saying, ĎHoly shit ó this blind manís rap has got a serious kick!í Lastly, Iím going to hit you with a C-Bomb, a Content Bomb, because Iím looking out for dolphins and fish, and all the sea creatures ó youíll see my point of view when I mace you in the peepers."

In other words: "I got a bad disposition/ and my life is a mission/ to make you listen to the rhymes of the blind/ that you been dissiní."

B-Lite performs this Saturday, June 5 at AS220, 115 Empire Street in Providence. Tickets are $6; call (401) 831-9327.

Issue Date: June 4 - 10, 2004
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