By Kelly Dearmore
By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Anna Merlan
By Lee Escobedo
By Alice Laussade
Check out some of the lyrics to "Beyond Illusion." Against a backdrop of cosmic hip-hop beats, Shaw delivers--in a deep, James Earl Jones-ish voice--"You have to cease the wild beast/By taking your mind East/Then you can attain supreme peace/And then you go beyond the human anatomy/And set your mind free from the body psychology/Living with this truth will take you back to the spiritual sky/That's your true home/Where you belong...Transcendental equanimity/It's from eternity." The lyrics are punctuated by the occasional "Word!" and phrases in Sanskrit.
"I don't make it sectarian when I'm talkin' to a person," Shaw maintains. "I try to let them know about spiritual paths--in particular, how to realize their identity." What he's referring to is the fundamental tenet of Hinduism and Buddhism that states that the soul is transcendental and appears again and again through reincarnation. The goal of life is then to identify yourself as a soul and end the cycle of birth and death.
"There are many different roads a person can choose to do that," Shaw says. "That's why I'm comin' from a universal perspective, and that's why I say in one of my songs, 'We are descending from a higher plane of consciousness in order to infuse wisdom, knowledge, and understanding to help with the planetary transformation.'"
The biggest question facing Bhakti is whether people who are accustomed to a standard diet of gang-banging hip-hop are ready or willing to listen to a message that is completely different. Shaw points to inspirations including Badu, Digable Planets, Jamiroquai, and the Jungle Brothers as success stories, but Bhakti's music is on a whole new level--one that might be too high for the average person to handle.
"Right now, the evolution is in people's consciousness--not only in the populace in general, but even the hip-hop field," Shaw says. "They're moving over to a realm, you could say, that's metaphysical. Not only that, but holistic science has become intrinsic in society today, more than it has ever been. We're approaching a new millennium, and people's consciousness is changing and they're wanting to know a little more about what's out there."
But Bhakti doesn't end with just music. In conjunction with the concerts, Shaw plans to hold lectures on metaphysical topics. "It'll be real cool vibe, you know, with incense and everything. You gotta have incense. When I'm on my way to do the recordings, I light up some incense in my car and drive and do some verbal meditation before I go into the studio."
Look out MC Solaar, Justin Warfield, and De La Soul--you got competition.