Eastern European culture has kind of been interesting to me. My grandparents were forced out of what is now Poland, but what used to be Belarus, by the Russians during the second world war for being Baptist land owners. Yeah, I’m not making that up. Communist Russia sure didn’t care for capitalism.
Both of my dad’s brothers were born in a German concentration camp before my grandparents were sponsored by a Baptist church in Eureka, Montana. They legally immigrated to America where they were forced to Americanize their last name to Janowicz from something that I can kind of pronounce, but certainly not spell.
I guess that’s why Eastern European culture has interested me, because the Russians tried to kill my grandparents. If they had succeeded, I wouldn’t be here, writing this article, or appreciating Avatar Young Blaze’s The Iron Curtain. I also wouldn’t have spent a weekend in my Motherland (Poland) during my time living abroad. In case you’re wondering, I hated it. The food was bad, and the weather was worse than Seattle. They did, however, have a multitude of great little teahouse cafe things, and my hostel was great. So I can’t totally hate.
Avatar Young Blaze’s The Iron Curtain has been my sole foray into Eastern European hiphop, by way of Seattle. I really hope everyone knows what The Iron Curtain references. I’m not even going to explain it, and allow you to use The Google if you somehow don’t know.
As such, you can probably guess that the name of the tape piqued my interest, and as I listened, so did the music. I understand that the point of each project is to stand out, and to be different, but The Iron Curtain did that and more. There are definitely some cuts on here, and it’s cool how it demonstrates Avatar’s versatility.
“UK Grime,” perhaps a happy medium between Eastern Europe and Seattle if you’re flying to Russia over the Atlantic instead of the Pacific, is my favorite track off The Iron Curtain. Ironically, I think the best word to describe it is grimy. There’s a lot going on with the beat, with baby traces of dubstep that hiphop is slowly embracing, as well as snare kicks at the perfect times, and it all just works.
“Hollywood Star” has been stuck in my head for the last two days, and I’m not even mad at that. The song shows a somewhat softer Avatar, partly because of the instrumentals and partly because of Lace Cadence’s hook, who I had the pleasure of meeting last week at Jet Set.
From what I understand, Avatar considers Seattle his home. If I wasn’t paying close attention to hear his Seattle references throughout tthe songs, I probably would not guess that he hailed from the 206 because he is really able to transcend typical Seattle hiphop boundaries. In other words, there is no iron curtain between his style of hiphop and from what else is coming out of the town. Like with the exotic female vocals singing in Russian on “Slumdog,” which has an incredibly alluring, dope sound to it. Maybe it’s indicative of a Seattle I don’t know, but it creates imagery of what I would imagine something in a back alley of a side street in some Russian town or something. Maybe I just have an overactive imagination.
Regardless, The Iron Curtain was an enjoyable listen, and as cliche as it sounds, a breath of fresh air.
Download it here.