CD REVIEW: Big Quarters

Big Quarters formerly known as EPL & Snakebird
by Kandis Knight

I’ve been itching to review EPL & Snakebird’s music since the first time I heard it—even as the local duo of Brandon Bagaason and Medium Zach changed their group name to Big Quarters shortly after dropping their fantastic album. The album EPL & Snakebird Songs are ideal chill music, the beats dictating a low-key feeling. Although the production is as tight as can be, the themes on some of the songs tend to get lost from bar to bar.

Nevertheless, when I ask people what the most “slept on” local Hip-Hop album of the year is, EPL & Snakebird Songs is always mentioned first—and for good reason. The album starts with a simple, 30-second, two-note melody much like a heartbeat, the snare pulsations pull you into the track. “Climbing a Rope” is a decent introductory song. Unfortunately its solid lyrical themes (with ace lines like “Climbing a rope, because it’s not where you’re from but where you’re trying to go”) seem to get lost by the time the emcees have had a chance to grace the mic.

Couple the barrage of emcees with a snappy bass line dropping and the listener can be forgiven for beginning to nod, not even wanting to think anymore. The song ends with a random “OOh-La OOh-La OOh-La” reminiscent of an old school Kid-n-Play hook, but it sets the tone for the next track.

“Brandon’s Rap Song” has a catchy beat featuring a piano chord looped throughout the entire track and that now-trademark snappy bass line. We get to hear more of “that Brandon voice,” so lovable because it’s full of personality, and sometimes so hated because it booms so deeply and tends to get muffled. Unlike the introductory track, “Brandon’s Rap Song” has a distinct hook (“Grown men don’t cry that’s why we quotes rhymes”). The hook makes sense for me and in its own way touches that emo side we all know and love. Once again this track ends with a random reference to an old school classic. “All I want to do is zoom my zoom zoom zoom in a boom boom, just shake ya’ rump” ala Wreckx-N-Effect (a Teddy Riley production).

Track three is called “Take Two” and boasts a cool crackling vinyl sound effect reminiscent of an old school record player. I just love that. The beat reminds me of an old ‘70s blaxploitation movie soundtrack, I’m talking straight out of “Shaft.” This song is full of energy and the most up-tempo track on EPL & Snakebird Songs (“Take two, take three, take four, take five this reality show is being broadcast live.”)

The song is about living life everyday chasing a paycheck.

We all can relate to that feeling and the beat, including its funky bass line, mirrors that vibe.

Horns, horns, horns is all I can say about track four. I love horns. Track four is called “Medium” and is Medium Zach’s signature track on the album. “When I say Medium, y’all say Zach/ from the front to the back/ so now you know my name but what does it stand for?” This is the shortest song on the album—Zach doesn’t ever get around to explaining what his name stands for!

Zach does make one thing clear though, his life may be full of experience but his resume is not. My favorite line on the entire album is found on this song (“Paid man waiting for the day to stay paid off my melodies/ same thing that brings money brings jealousy/ but it also brings the rent and with ASCAP I hope I have that.”) “One For The” is my all around favorite song on the album because of its hypnotic beat and flirty flute samples. The flute flows through the entire track tickling your ears in tandem with Brandon’s booming undeniable vocals.

“One for the cops/ two for the criminals/ no television for fear of the subliminal/ maybe I’ll shut my eyes and walk around blindly/ fall off the planet so y’all can’t find me.”

This is Big Quarters’ deeper and darker reflective offering. “Manifest Destiny” is the strongest cut lyirically because of its ability to stay focused on a theme and its effortless flow (the cut’s whimsical, Middle Eastern feeling beat is nice too). Drama is added to the song via a trombone.

“Members Only” is the most “gangsta” song on the album, even down to its thuggish beat. This song features another solo by Brandon in the role of a teacher dropping verses that make your mind tick (featuring choice lines like, “Districts mapped out and we all chess pieces”).

Brandon gives us a further glimpse into the political side of his personality with this track. I’m sure the Big Quarters’ albums to follow will see this develop.To entice you to buy the album, there are a few songs I couldn’t review due to space limits, one such song is one of my personal favorites called “Show Me,” featuring Dessa Darling (of Doomtree). Definitely a ground shattering Minneapolis bred track, check it out.

For more information about Big Quarters check out their official website at