Do Remember: Mystic’s The Life (Video)
Thirteen years after its release, Mystic’s Cuts For Luck And Scars For Freedom continues to be a stone in the sand of the fast-paced 2000s. The only album released by the Bay area MC/songstress, this album has been reissued twice since its June, 2001 release by Good Vibe Records (at the time, also home to Slum Village and Bahamadia).
Mystic, with a low profile and Everywoman approach in her lyrics, joined 2Pac and Saafir as coming into the game through the Digital Underground family tree. Heads may remember Mystic’s appearances on D.U.’s Who Got The Gravy? album, as well as Conscious Daughters’ 1996 sophomore, Gamers.
Throughout the 1990s, Mystic balanced her musical career with teaching the arts and writing. By 2001, after extensive work in groups and under different monikers, Mystic joined the fledgling Good Vibe to release her debut.
For an album that rarely gets mentioned in the 2010s, Cuts… made tremendous impact. Featured in the Billboard Top 200, the release was among the label’s brightest, and an impressive showing for a debut artist. Additionally, Mystic received nods ranging from the Grammy Academy (for “The W” alongside Planet Asia as “Best Rap Collaboration”), to a 2002 BET Award (“Best Female Hip-Hop Artist”). When the album would be re-released by Dreamworks a couple of years later, Mystic’s repertoire on the LP expanded to include contributions from Mos Def and Kanye West. While working with mainstream MC/producers of the day, the West Coast artist maintained her tradition of supporting veteran local acts, ranging from work with Kam and Ras Kass, to an emerging Rock band known as Maroon 5.
However, for reasons coming to the light, Mystic spent the better part of the first decade of the 2000s refraining from a follow-up. A recent press bio reveals, “In the time since her last release, Mystic has been firmly cemented in her activism (mostly on behalf of children’s issues); graduated from community college with two associates degrees (Liberal Arts and Sciences; Anthropology); and is currently a full-time Interdisciplinary Studies student at UC Berkeley.”
It was not until last week, the versatile talent unleashed Beautiful Resistance. Featuring Philadelphia veteran Hezekiah, Da Beatminerz, and Living Legends alum Eligh, the W.A.R Media effort (Pharoahe Monch/ Mela Machinko) snuck under the radar of so many.
Ambrosia For Heads pays homage to the message and career of Mystic. Going back to her debut, the song “The Life” is an evocative ode to the complexities of (to steal a Mos Def phrase) “life in marvelous times.” Listen, watch, admire—and do remember the great visionary voice that is Mystic.
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