Since its inception hip-hop has been used as platform for a multitude of issues and concerns within the black community. Philadelphia emcee Timothy Welbeck with his album “No City For Young Men” looks to educate, uplift and empower our community through a number of means. Through this album, a book, a Temple University course, a text filled with critical essays and a multi-city, multi-university tour, Welbeck takes a unique approach to getting his message across. All of that said, I’m here to focus on the “No City For Young Men” the album.
Entering this record you have to understand what you’re getting into and listening to, “No City For Young Men” is a dense album. It’s 17 tracks deep extending well over an hour long, for some that might not be your cup of tea, but I ask you to slow down for a second. Timothy Welbeck’s album is refreshing in an industry of sugar-coated, lightning in a bottle rap music. This is a project to be studied and meditated on, not just consumed and spit back out for the next hit.
It’s one thing to specifically cover one topic in-depth throughout an album, but Timothy Welbeck leaves no stone unturned on “No City For Young Men”. From mental health, to the effects and stories of slavery. You’re not going to pick up everything on your first listen and guess what? That’s completely ok. Take an evening and give yourself time to absorb and hear what Welbeck is saying, you might relate to multiple topics on these tracks.
Tracks like “May You Ever” praise and uplift black women for all they’ve done for the world across time. Furthermore my favorite track on this project was “A Letter To My Future Son” that has Amena Brown dropping an unbelievably potent spoken word piece, she speaks of the love but also the dangers black men face.
While “No City For Young Men” is here to educate and give hope to black men, Timothy Welbeck has no problem challenging black men as well. “Rap & Ball 2.0” touches on the the tunnel vision some black men have when it comes to career options, whether caused by the lack of support by the community or our own deterrents.
“No City For Young Men” is an album we need right now, the timing is perfect given all the division in our nation. Not just between political parties or whatever, but even between our own people, who we should be allied with. Welbeck seems to cover the whole gambit of issues on this album and it’s one I feel everyone needs to take some time to listen. Again in an era where a project’s longevity is determined by hits (and even then a release only lasts about a week, before everyone is onto the next release) Welbeck’s “No City For Young Men” is a nice change of pace, refreshing, uplifting and a project meant to be spun multiple times for you to absorb.