Thursday, July 26, 2012

Album Review: Killarmy "Dirty Weaponry" Part II

Welcome back to part two of my review of my all time favorite hip hop album "Dirty Weaponry" by Killarmy. No, I'm not kidding, I've listened to this album more than almost any other rap album (maybe with a few exceptions). I'll try to finish this review off without writing a novel, but I'll probably fail. BTW assholes, if you missed part 1, it's here.

Let's get it!

6. "Doomsday"

I may have mentioned that the first half of this album was relatively mellow, I was right, but everything is mellow compared to this song. Solar flares. Train collisions. The special effects in the Transformers movies. All mellow. This song is an assault. It's an attack on "MCs with hollow skills, who talk about clothing articles and dollar bills / and fake ass rides that you don't even drive" because, "hip hop is war, and only strong MCs will survive".

That's the chorus, delivered by Holocaust of the Black Knights (better known as that one guy from the Bobby Digital albums) in his first appearance on this album. And it should be known that he fits perfectly in with the team. He spits the first verse and sounds like he belongs on this shit. Make him the tenth member or something!

Before I get into how dope everyone is on this track I want to point out a major disparity: this song is strongly opposed to materialistic rap, and that is a very good thing. But they call out clothing focused rappers like I forgot about Wu Wear, and the entire song by the Clan about Wu Wear. Is this some biting the hand that feeds you shit, or do the Wu get some kind of exception?

Let's forget about that and move on to the actual track. It starts off with an explosion (of course) then as the rugged beat builds there is also the sound of some sort of machine starting up. Honestly, the first twenty seconds of this song are about as rugged as any hip hop as ever been. Ever. Then it turns into some war shit and sets the bar ridiculously high for future rugged hip hop. The beat is relentless all the way through with genius change ups and almost the best production on the album.

Now for the lyrics. Holy shit, these lyrics are incredible. I'm just going to cut lines from each MC (and I'll probably end up quoting the whole song):

"Half dead platoon leader, but woken by enemy heaters /
Juggernaut, on the block, blast shots at all retreaters"

"Black kid, creep between walls like an arachnid
Smash hits that open you like bullets with glass tips
Killgrave, the black sea serpent who swallow ships
My fists become glocks and my knuckles hollow tips"

Beretta 9:
"We may bomb this, but seem harmless, check the calmness
My palm hits like a closed fist, break ya jaw wit this"

I'll also give Baretta 9 respect for all the references: A-Team, Excite Bike, Cannonball Run

Dom Pachino (with the best verse):
"Layin in the dark war trench / Covered in mud strong corpse stench
Monkey wrench, adjusting my mic, fatigues drenched.
From soldiers' insides, scriptures hidden up in my archives
Dodge and throw knives hand to hand combat takin lives"

The monkey wrench line is fantastic.

FUCK!!!! The energy on that track is through the roof. It doesn't get much better than that, fake ass MCs.

7. "Red Dawn"
Even the title of this song is a dope ass reference. Without even hearing it you know it's going to be good. Then your prediction is confirmed as soon as you hear that the song starts out with explosions and an helicopter, and a promise that Killarmy's raps are "nasty like pron". Which is also part of the chorus...and I'll go ahead and label this chorus ONE OF THE BEST CHORUSES EVER which I'll get to later.

This is almost the best song on the album. #SALUTE

The beat is like an odd mix of a military bugle that sounds like 4th Disciple discovered on a cheap Casio keyboard added to the same cheap keyboard set to "symphony". And while these musical elements add to the ruggedness of this song, the major beat change ups ensure that this track can withstand many repeat listenings. That, and the incredible lyrics.

So, Dom Pachino kicks off the track megahard:

"Scuffed up guns, toss the filthy heat then run
Dirty Weaponry, fill my clip with rusty dum-dums /
it hardly work right, when I bust it hardly jerk right /
Smith and Wesson type, illuminate the block all night.
Serial scrape, found it in a nearby lake,
dried it off, and hour later caught your man for his cake"

What? Do you have a problem with that? No.

At this point the beat changes up and the bugle come in and stretches out over several bars and leads to 9th Prince's verse. Now think about that set up. No chorus yet, it's straight verse to verse, connected by a long played mournful bugle over a ridiculously rugged choppy beat. It's genius.

9th Prince does his off-beat (and so hard) verse thing, and delivers ultra complex rhymes that really shouldn't exist. They're too much for any amateur to take:

"...Rappers is too commercial, I lyrically murder you
We attack with logical, scrape your physical composition
With broken bottles, and blow fire out my nostrils
Rappers is nervous, battle mode verses
Lyrically enormous shock waves split the surface..."

Again, WHAT?

This verse leads us to our first glimpse of the ill chorus:

"Red dawn, war pawns, raps nasty like prn
Pass on, transform, arm - leg - leg - arm
Supreme head, infra-red, we form like Voltron
We form like Voltron"

Top that rappers. You cannot.

Think fast, because right after that we're pulled into one of the best verses of all time, as delivered by Baretta 9:

"Yo! We go to war like Arabians, Pakistinians, Rich men and Indians
Germans, Muslims, Vikings, Patriots
Trojans, Conquistadors, Romans
Projects, Aztecs, Confederates, Yankees, Nazis
Nam vets drown you in the ocean get your shit open
Should've had your sword but it was broken
Strike your whole facility with strength and agility
To the best of my ability with heavy artillerary..."

So when Baretta boasts that he's "aiming sights at your dome and at your coronary", you best believe it.

Shit, that is one of the best songs ever. How did they do it? (Listen up newjacks, here is the formula):

-Dope beat with mad ill change ups, and a long melody
-Clever lyrics
-Smart energetic verse jump-offs (the first few lines of each verse are fire)
-Inventive chorus
-Fucked structure (Verse - Verse - Chorus - Verse - Chorus - Chorus)
-Explosions + Helicopter Sounds
-Good production


8. "The Shoot Out"
How do you follow a song like Red Dawn? You body everything at once in one track. This is one of the best hip hop songs ever. EVER. It's the centerpiece of the album and of Killarmy's career. This is the song with the crazy music video featuring terrorist training like something you'd see on news footage from Afghanistan. The video is just nuts (so I'll review it another time). Let's just focus on the song.

This song writes the book on the art of jumping off. The first sounds we hear (besides someone saying something about "apocalyptic") is heavy scratching for like two seconds then BOOM the beat and the first verse kick off at the same time.

"I got a hunger for the mic my appetite strike late at night
food for thought, hold down a fort
up in the port of riches last seen giving stitches..."

The verse is short and feels like a jump-in (gang reference). The song quickly moves to a transition that only Killarmy could pull off. Once Dom Pachino kills his first verse we get the Killarmy salute ("Yo....What?...Yo."), then the beat changes up to something very subtle for Baretta 9's second verse. But the relief from the driving beat only lasts a bar or two as the track is quickly interrupted by the intense main beat. The verse is near perfect as Beretta closes with a reference to Killarmy's first album:

"...I said always think twice, remember always think twice
there's one fucking mistake, men be comin awake kid
so wake the fuck up, yo wake the fuck up, yo"

Boom, right after that Islord explodes in with the third verse...

"Hey YO! Straight up and down don't even bring that type of shit around me,
you liable to get ya whole neck slapped off ya shoulders,
Quick fast, faster than the eye blink, so why think
you could live amongst the, livest MCs
and G-O-D's that I run with,
and collaborate my thoughts with"

After this verse we're just barley a minute into the track and have hardly had a chance to breath, but the onslaught continues with Dom Pachino pulling in the fourth verse, still no chorus to be seen:

"grab the mic, look into the sunshine way above me
hold my forehead, today had my daily bread
shared it with you, make sure my fans are always fed"

Good verse, then we get a quick break lyrically before Killa Sin closes hard:

"Yo I'm pullin' wrestlin' moves on competition /  head locked into submission..."

Dope verses all around. So let's just compare this track to the previous one and see how it used the formula:

-Dope beat with mad ill change ups (Yes)
-Clever lyrics (Yes)
-Smart energetic verse jump-offs (Yes)
-Inventive chorus (No Chorus, which is often smarter than using a chorus)
-Fucked structure (Verse - Verse - Verse - Verse - Verse) (this is a traditional hip hop structure)
-Explosions + Helicopter Sounds (yes, no helicopter sounds)

So, this one is similar, but I would add
-Incredible jump off
-Heavy scratching
-Good production

Killarmy Killin' It.

9. "Bastard Swordsman"
So the reign of awesome continues as Mathematics comes in to produce a more traditional song, giving 4th Disciple a well earned break. Now, when I say "traditional", I mean "a structure similar to standard songs, but still not even close to what you would hear anywhere else".

The song starts with this odd exchange:

Woman: "I can't understand why you treat me this way"
P.R. Terrorist: "I know, I know, I know what time it is."

Actually, the "treat me this way" line is the loop for the opening of the song, once the verse starts the beat becomes very rugged. It's a tight loop with very little variation from bar to bar.

While the first verse isn't anything remarkable lyrically, the transition is supreme. P.R. Terrorist just kind of stops rapping, Holocaust (of the Black Knights) drops in for a second guest spot on the album by throwing in a couple of "Wu Tang" name drops. Then we get the chorus (also from P.R. Terrorist and Holocaust). I challenge you to come up with a chorus this good:

P.R.: "Bastard swordsman, swing ya shit"
Holocaust: "I'm duckin all of em / Swingin back, double edged ax we cuttin all of em"

Brilliantly, the chours blurs right into Holocaust's verse, which is also good:

"...Holocaust, loudmouth who bombs wise /
I'm hideous glance and gouge out ya own eyes
West coast vet, grotesque who flows wet /

Bury you and some in remote region with a broke neck
Wu-tang, seven death blows / Explore the globe

Stand in shallow water and slaughter those who oppose"

9th Prince follows with another flat verse (I think the beat knocks the energy of the track a little bit). Then we have another visit to the chorus (with lots of explosions and gunshots). Shogun the Assassin closes out the track "[leaving] your mind in a state of panic, like a claustrophobic trapped on the titanic", which is good.

Not a bad track at all, next!

10. "Last Poet"
While 4th Disciple continues his lunch break, Russ Prez steps in for a little production. Who is Russ Prez? I don't know! Ask this guy @RussPrez! Let's hear his work:

This song is very good. The beat is mad nice, Russ Prez produced this one perfectly. P.R. Terrorist kicks off the track with an inventive rhyme about the Last Poet:

"The Last Poet construct the rhyme that'll self-destruct,
in your tape deck, in your walkman, or in your truck.
Benzy box, boom box, crime stock upon my block
Choppers hovering, bright lights got me on the spot
Heavy heat, tucked in my boxers, rubbing on my meat
Vigilante rap, take negotiations to the street..."

I can't emphasize enough how well the lyrics fit over this smooth beat. It's like a perfect match, a mad laid back beat laid with calm rugged lyrics. Instead of a chorus we get a Killarmy standard ill sample:

"Like or not, we live in time of danger and uncertainty.
That is the way, he lived. That is what he leaves us."

Which brings us to verse two, by Islord, who I'm starting to think is the most talented one out of the group. He always murders the track, and this verse is no exception.

"Aiyyo, my thoughts flashback to when I was trapped in Mecca
In the middle of a warzone, squeezing off shots
To twist n----s physical like cyclones
But now I'm in the worst part, with the art..."

Now Islord's flow over this beat is untoppable. It's probably the best of the album. After that we get another news sample to break up the track, and then it's on to 9th Prince who closed out the track with his mad rugged flow.

"Yo, Yo, my lyrics strike like uranium bombs,
I speak with authority but calm
Bent taht n---- like the hunch back from Notre Dame
24 track flashbacks, watch the mind travel
Time Trax..."

Then we end with a little clip of George H.W. Bush warning that the "battle has been joined", and another ill track fades out.

11. "Serving Justice"

Here is my review of this song: it's so fucking good. Just check the sample at the beginning and the tone the beat establishes. This is another song that fits perfectly into the Killarmy mold. Another dope beat, another dope chorus, more dope lyrics. This song breaks out of hip hop tradition (as usual) by jacking with the song structure, but at the same time it takes one of hip hop's greatest achievements (the back-and-forth) and uses it perfectly. Our first verse (after the chorus below) is a razor sharp back and forth with Killa Sin and P.R. Terrorist (honestly, 4th Disciple should get credit for his production yet again). Let's check 'em out:

Killa Sin:
"Make ya brain shift like earthquake plates in Vegas
North Face kicks, guarantee that ass a free face lift
Crack ya jaw in three different places leave you speechless"

P.R. Terrorist:
"Speak with a lisp lyrics of force'll skip ya disk
Shuffle your track, bring ya shit back then make ya piss"

Check the lyrical content on the chorus: Killarmy is "serving justice", "with ruckus". Plus they put the "mic on the crutches". Genius. 9th Prince closes out the track, and, fuck, that guy should win a real award for best rapper....all of Killarmy should.

What else can I say? It's a good song. Listen to it! Just look for "Serving Justice" by Killarmy on the jukebox at your local Pizza Hut, play that shit and watch the whole place start flashdancing to this 4th Disciple track (it's off the meat rack).

12. "Where I Rest At"

"The chances of this song being good are almost nothing. I mean it would be the twelfth good song in a row" - people who are wrong. This song is good. Check the violin!

I will give it one knock right off the bat: the chorus is the weakest of the album, but it's still a million times better than most choruses. But the odds were against them, describing where one rests at is pretty tired. PLUS, it's just a "listing shit" chorus, which is extra played out, even though the Killarmy boys do it with gusto:

"Where I rest at n----s scheme and plot,
Sling rocks, darts, cops move on our block and get fought
Bust a shot and get shot, smoke pot, get locked
Do a bid, while some taught to resurface to the street
Some don't last, won't weep
Where I rest at keep a vest and a gat at least three ways back
So, the flash can't track, where I rest at do the one to time
Double dirty crossed sneaky snake fucks, where I rest at"

In hindsight, that's a pretty good chorus. It has so many words and mentions "sneaky snake fucks". That's good.

The verses go to Killa Sin and Shogun Assassin. And, not to sound like a broken record, but, they all sound very good. Actually Shogun Assassin doesn't sound good. WTF happened to his voice, and his lyrics are pretty weak. I guess the magic is gone, even though this is a good track.

But I've got to ONCE AGAIN HAND IT TO 4TH DISCIPLE. The fucking production on this song is unbelieveable. From the violin over the breakdown to the "war scene" outro, this song is fire. I like the violin on this track a million times better than the fiddle on that track that kicked off  Wu Tang "Forever". It's better, okay.

Smell that gunpowder in the air?

13. "Pain"

Well this is different from everything ever. With a very slow lumbering beat and suicidal themes. Yet at the same time it is the same as Killarmy ever was! Gunshots!

Clearly 4th Disciple and the gang were like "Fuck it, let's get weird" for this track. I mean there isn't much like this in hip hop, or anywhere else for that matter. But it turns out to be brilliant. I mean this track accomplishes things, format-wise, that not many other songs can do.

Here is a not interesting story about this track: I used to hate it because I thought it was too slow. But now I like it because it's so good. The centerpiece of the track is this (almost indecipherable) sample:

Voice 1 (Growling): "You'll feel some pain...but I'm home"
Vocie 2 (Scared): "You can hear me!?"
Vocie 3 (Rushed): "GET OUT OF MY HEAD (GUNSHOT)"

That's that. And it's weird. Plus the boys are in the back talking about "get off of our swords". Then the beat and the first verse (by Shogun) just kind of slump onto the scene. The verse is good and very quiet, sleepy, and monotone. By comparison, Islord's second verse is like a tornado. He explodes onto the track with this:

"Yo. Hey yo. Hey yo! Hey yo!
Check this...thousand dollar...line for line paragraph causin' ruckus
Towards y'all...weak motherfuckin analog n----s
Tryin' to come into the mist of shit
You get flipped on, snapped on your collar bone
out of spite, cause I don't like snake niggaz in my eyesight..."

So good. Especially when it's punctuated with gunshots. Beretta 9 holds down the third verese, and it's hard not to notice the track building momentum even though nothing has really changed. Are there more gunshots? Are the MC's picking up the pace? Is the track getting louder or speeding up? I don't know, but I can feel the energy building.

Suddenly the track is filled with scratching and crazy samples, what was once a sleepy little track has become a powerhouse. Here's the math:

"Killarmy profilin', mostly buck wildin'" + "Soldiers combine the sacred seven men" + The odd "get out of my head" sample + gunshots = GENIUS

The track throws a 9th Prince verse at you, and the set up is similar to the first half of the song. 9th Prince is bringing the ruckus loud enough, but he keeps it mellow enough so that once Killa Sin comes in to close out the track with the last verse, it's like a punch to the gut.

"yo. YO! I'm like a landmine, schemin' on anti,
Keepin' on a standby flight and blow the crowd with their hands high
For now I amplify sounds shut a coliseum down, first round, face down..."

He closes the album out with this:

"Open mic session, bury you, spark a party up, somethin terrible
The pain that my n----s bring forth is unbearable, Yo, I'm tellin' you...get the fuck..."

Then we have some posturing behind that oddball sample. And it's over.

Let's talk about everything that this album got right:
1. Lyrics - murderous throughout
2. Beats - Cleverly rugged, complimentary to the MCs, hard as hell, repeatable
3. Production - Genius, expertly handled, raw- but with enough changes to keep it fresh, bg riskes are taken that pay off
4. Choruses - Either nonexistant, clever, or lyrically solid
5. Theme - Consistant (no R&B shit), stuck to the theme

This is cohesive collection of songs that fit together as a whole, everyone brought their sharp swords and swung hard. Now let's give the award for the best job ever to 4th Disciple and the whole Killarmy Team for making this shit. If you ever wonder why we seem to hate all the rap, it's because we cut our teeth on this shit. #RESPECT

Dirty Weaponry Score THE GOLD STANDARD

P.S. My revew was 6,000 words. That's 12 pages of bologna.

1 comment:

  1. Damn, you really love this album. I love 2/3 of it.