You can see Lincoln Marshall live on Saturday, June 25th, when they open for Public Enemy at Free State Festival. The show is free to the public and will be held outside the Lawrence Arts Center.

Lincoln Marshall - Water Cover Art
Lincoln Marshall – Water Cover Art

It’s becoming clear that everything Lincoln Marshall does is well thought out. The hip hop duo comprised of Approach and MilkDrop have released the second in a trio of albums bonded together by a theme. With Water, they continue to delve into the stream of consciousness of a performer.

As with any good rapper with dazzling connections, we see some cameos— but they’re not all guest rappers. Louiz Rip lays down some lines early in the album  but Kansas City bassist Dominique Sanders appears on “Mo Spins” while the notoriously talented DJ G Train appears on “Save.” Water, it seems, is a work of art in ways that local hip hop albums don’t normally touch. Here, we have an act that utilizes live musicians and actual DJs in their work.

“Shows” is a call to action to concert-goers, most likely the folks who show up with their arms crossed and barely move. This track emanates what Approach is best at: getting a stiff crowd to lighten up and move. As with many performers, he wakes up on show day optimistic. “What a lovely Kansas day!” he declares at the start of the track before addressing the stiffs at a show. “Get the place poppin, gonna crush all the chill,” he warns. “It’s time to free the beast, move the body,” he continues before spitting out what is arguably the catchiest line on the album. “Don’t worry about what they do… it’s a show, see where it takes you. I don’t know, it feels good to let loose.” Live shows are as much of a release for the performer as it is the audience. MilkDrop drops in with his two cents on how he approaches the live performance, a stark difference from Approach’s method. If you’ve ever seen Lincoln Marshall live, you’ll know that while Approach is all about jazzing up the crowd, Milk is very focused and concentrating on his words. He makes them known on “Shows” when he says “I don’t talk much, mostly cause my art has a body.”

Lincoln MarshallHalfway through the album we are presented with another track continuing the discussion on the nature of the music scene from the mind of a performer. When they released “Mo Spins” in April, we pointed out that the nice thing about local hip hop is that the songs are usually something you can connect with. In a town full of musicians, “Mo Spins” is definitely relatable with lines like “Music is clear now, not all dreams are hopeless.”

We do get a little sweetness out of Lincoln Marshall with “Peaches.” This is a number where we see two grown men swoon over a significant other, and it’s precious. “Dude can dream too, we’re not all chasing skirts. We’re not all trying to creep and act so damn rude,” Approach pleads before laying into a message that has likely crossed everyone’s mind at some point in their love life. “You’re the one I”m glad to meet, sweeter than a Georgia peach.”

The album closes out with its title track as a bit of a warning to other music makers. “Water” calls out other artists to add a little more substance to their work. “Follow the light and let some truth in,” Approach says. The lyricist has always been one to lean more towards other fellow artists that stay true to themselves. Lincoln Marshall is an act that has always been sending out words of wisdoms (and sometimes warnings) to other musicians. This is likely because Approach has been in the business a long time, seen it all, and wants to maintain the strength of the local scene. Water is a must-hear for any up and coming performer between Topeka, Lawrence, and Kansas City.

Words and photos by Fally Afani



Fally Afani is an award-winning journalist with a career spanning more than 20 years in media. She has worked extensively in radio, television, newspapers, magazines, and more.

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