The recently released docudrama, “The Rise and Fall of the Brown Buffalo,” which details the life of Chicano activist, Oscar “Zeta” Acosta, has inspired an album that explores many of the same issues Acosta addressed during his contentious life. “Return of the Brown Buffalo” by MC Random and BookWormBrown, is a six-song analysis of where people of color find themselves today and a rallying cry for change, awareness and solidarity.
Despite its EP-length, the album is quite comprehensive in its approach and does not waiver under the weight of its subject matter. Appropriately, it begins in the “Eye of the Storm,” which provides the listener with an effective launching pad to navigate the rest of the tracks. Just as effective as his lyrics are MC Random’s tone and tempo—remarkably measured and ultimately revealing how capable he is in addressing severe topics with complete composure. Lines like “They try and separate us, because they hate us/The more they break us, the more they make us/Come together for a common cause” act as calls for black and brown unity and this also successfully speaks to the identity of both emcees and the album as a whole.
Featured artists include emcees Transcnd and Apakalips, and singer Kenisha Greene, among others. Their appearances arrive at opportune moments in the project; they are well placed and help build a vocal bridge from MC Random to BookWormBrown. Whereas Random gradually builds the momentum and focus of the album’s narrative over the first two to three songs, BookWormBrown makes sure the latter half concludes in aggression and angst.
A prime example of this is “Blame It On Brown” which is a frantic track, noticeably different in its approach than the beginning of the album yet complimentary to it. BookWormBrown turns the gaze towards Chicanos and how they are scapegoated, saying, “When the towers of Babylon come tumbling down, blame it on brown…when the military men come march through your town, blame it on brown.”
The album is a quick, insightful listen that does not seek to ride the coattails of the movie. Instead, it stands alone as a protest piece and paints a picture of this gasoline-drizzled world, where Chicanos and other so-called minorities are one push away from lighting the match.