July 19, 2024

Force Reaction is a politically and emotionally charged Hip-Hop/Rap collaboration between Silus Bedlam (vocals) and Bitter Sweetness (production). Based out of the Northeastern United States, they explore topics of mental health, politics, art and the pharmaceutical industry. In order to stay standing you must exert a force equal and opposite to the trials of life – hence the title of their 10 track album “Equal and Opposite”. It’s a dynamite and audaciously bold rap masterpiece, on-point thematically and, even more so, musically, with the duo mashing up mainstream hip-hop and alternative flavors and baroque pop. This is one of undergrounds hip-hop’s yearly high points, and I’m confident that Force Reaction’s new album can weather the backlash that all potential classics must confront. Few modern indie rap album’s I’ve heard can boast better electronic driven production than this one. The music is exhilarating, often gritty, never predictable, and at times stunningly gorgeous.

Bitter Sweetness has an intuitive sense of how to construct more kinds of songs than many other producers working today. He looks good in grimy electro-rock on “Call Me” and “Asylum Dreams (Fight)”, pulls off arena-sized pop on “Rise Up” and still finds time with the cuts like “Never Satisfied” and “Aside” to kick out hard knocking rap tracks.

It’s absolutely vital that producers actively exploit whatever artistic potential rap does have. It matters that producers like Bitter Sweetness are pushing new frontiers in the face of the so many people interested in policing its borders. Bitter Sweetness’s production is loud and proud, but also poignant and gripping.

At the same time it’s also, more frequent, that rap fans believe realness is definitive of good rap and refuse to accept anything less than a one-to-one correspondence between life and lyrics. In this department, the other half of Force Reaction, Silus Bedlam, delivers real rhymes with conviction.

The emotion he injects into each performance, is yet another factor that sets him apart from so many of his peers. Treating a plethora of essential social, cultural and political themes, the stakes are high here, both for Force Reaction and the conscious rap culture, but not a word is wasted by Silus. Ultimately, he defaults to being brutally honest, an absolute forte of his.

“Equal and Opposite” digs deep into the consequences of mankind’s failure to obey the laws of goodwill. Observation is Force Reaction’s primary means of engaging with this world, and that act is obviously transformative. They are changed by what they witness, and the more they observe, the more they are capable of – both as mere citizens and as artists.

You can feel that urgent observational vibe right from when the first track, “Call Me” kicks in. By the second track, “Organic High”, flows through the speakers, Force Reaction have already switched into overdrive with a standout track, a superbly smooth flow from Silus Bedlam: “The cops, the cops, yeah, they’re gonna tear down the door. And handcuffs, they’re gonna drag me out the door.”

“Out Of My Element” introduces dark and melodic vocal interlude before the duo move into another album highlight in the shape of “Big Pharma”, which aims directly at the pharmaceutical industry and hits hard. As storytellers and craftsmen of highly conceptualized music, Force Reaction frequently use ‘call-to-action’ as a literary device.

They do it with persuasion and courage on “Asylum Dreams (Fight)”, “Dignified” and “Rise Up”. In this way, they give us an album that is as concerned with serious matters on a personal, national and even global level.

By the time you hit play into an exhilarating roller-coaster ride of flows and beats on  “Stigma” and the back to back standouts, “Never Satisfied” and “Aside”, it becomes clear that Force Reaction do not presents themselves as wizened street philosophers, but as ordinary, caring and conscious human beings. That’s the difference between intelligent rap artists and sermonizing wack artists.

It is almost incomprehensible how Force Reaction are able to pull off such an ambitious project as “Equal and Opposite” to such near-perfect results. Every element found on this album, is just another opportunity for Silus Bedlam (vocals) and Bitter Sweetness (production) to prove their mastery. Even the track order is flawless.  Everything here sparkles and nothing is out of place.


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