[ #SkillastratorLO #PowerWrite ]
Blessed with afflictions of stockarms syndrome
relishing the weaponry’s sinking effects on the hells of our lives.
From these sharpened armaments the spics aren’t allowed to be known for.
An original mettle in my blood type–the gifts script,
my butterfly sword carried, stroking the herogoblin of my soul
It all smooths til it stains open papers in shelved minds
A language in the might, a chiseled ballad of words exact and right
Or are these just visions of telemeres in my mind?
Growing through the unkind
Gathering around to this tiny quaint quant place,
all where a math others never added gets laced.
When a brother only dresses in principle, his art clothes are colors of conflict, fabrics that flash issues, really garments that inspire revolutions toward greatness. Costumes never more. Still, they are usually out of order and under any code are offensive. Immediately disrespectful when the truth of oppression is demeaned as an appalling dry snitch. The success of the Black man, even if in the rarest esteemed professions as warring against consuming flames in domiciles, is only accepted if there is an endless docile kneel of assimilation. And so KA, once them easels of scripture find root in a brother building an honorable life, there are the yellow snakes of media’s deepest sewage that must oppose. They champion themselves as defenders against contradiction, standing at the Post of judgment, not a break or a verse has ever been a salvage for them. Yet, the hypocrite has no home in ethics so glass never shall shatter for these pathetic homeless. Hip Hop lives truly in the counter cultural margins of contradiction. When it’s good, the criminal is the sage wielding supreme mathematics, the thief of the garment bullhorns the people’s voice, the booming shooter is a silent healer and the heathen hustler mutates his will to become the poet of love through hell…towards a greater right, of course. KA is here somewhere and I, of the same poor Black diaspora proletariat, share an incredible appreciation of him with you. I, a writer that yells and clarifies with gritted grammar and the polished build, spend too many an evening reciting the aphorisms of the lone Brownsville bard.
Honor Killed the Samurai, is a companion composition of the way to the distinct peoples of this era he continues to voice for, the post-Dark Ages period of the Nigga States. In this Nigga States period, savage is a term of endearment, fucks are saved in an empty box that never fills and the majority’s musical palette is either a diluted rote revival from Salsa Dura to Boom Bap. Or? Worse than Hihache or Mel’s Synth Sub as the supposed surprise drums on the posse cut of the century?! Or that complete loss of original creativity. Towards the sparkling lowlights of beta boy to botty mon ballads and trap trash mumble mania. The realness of impoverished rhymers becoming larger than life for their ideas, flows and cleverness are now categories in history’s trivia. And now this resurrected man ninjaly embraces the Hip Hop rules as principles and seppuku is the willing returning to the essence of the Art. It is here where these dojos differ but the men are A-alike as they are rare. After the warring, another Ka LP remains on the mantle mightily.
as poverty’s apprentice or as babies’ retainer
violent desires lessen as skill impresses.
Ego regresses without humility’s lessons
So fold and carry, then play to unfold
these warrior airs to sting. Today’s Blue Cliff records
Let 180 moves flow at will and the heart can be spoken more clearly.
And soon the mind sees children in one’s hands and feet
where all Arts become martial as ought
So still fight
From the black tiger boxing to the Bian Xing penmanship.
Remembered In Perfection is a blessing to be ignorant of.
Just knowledge the movement of the finer things…
The depth of Ka’s lyricism after this decade’s handful of works (2012’s Grief Pedigree, it’s #ScienceOnMusic HERE; 2013’s The Night’s Gambit, it’s #ArtOnArt HERE; 2014’s 1200 B.C. it’s #ArtOnArt HERE; 2015’s Dr. Yen Lo, it’s #ArtOnArt HERE) has made him an essential MC and Honor reveals growth in the greatest of subtleties, the ones to study and marvel over for years. Honor Killed the Samurai is a near 5,000-word poem of cadences in fine fluctuations, brilliance in word choices and vivid pictorials of wars outer and inner. It is collected stanzas of the metamorphosis of a Black man, never every, very rarely any, but any possibly, that observe the survival of hell as the most fatal lesson. To finally kill the self as one knew it to be, thought it would always horribly be and now can truly see it become what it ought to be.
Often beginning at awareness of his newly realized mastery, (“Fact you hear me, I’m clearly a modern marvel/Graciously platin’ offerings… they got me from scrub to great player/Guess I was destined, my progression is evident,”) the minimal use of words magnifies the rewind he blends to (“A phonetic cold verse praise good/But my genetic code vs. neighborhood/With no clear winner”) offering particulars that affected his life (“I was stressin’, wrestling with the scourge/Stay low in beef, never live high on the hog/If not for Fresh Air Fund, I’da died in the smog …” – “That Cold And Lonely”), the street rules of survival (“My first lesson was never bluff with a bullet/If you show it gotta blow it, spark and leave” – “Destined”), the attempts at self-therapy (“Trying to find a reason I’m still alive breathin’/I wanna heal my inner child, it’s been a while grievin’” – “Just”) and the duality in the righteousness attained (“I give it life, but write like I already died/No petty fray, every day I hail the truth/Let it spray, never say Ka failed the youth/I rep with the Gods” – “That Cold And Lonely”). They all combine to deep sums of humanity that so often we ourselves refuse.
The skill sets in cadences are as subtly immaculate as Miles Davis balladeering on “Blue in Green” or “It Never Entered My Mind” where the sublime is the ability to sustain the lowest register of notes throughout. As “Illicit Fields” where the cleverness of notes (“Food determined my mood, never expected a meal/In the hustle muscles played out, respect’s in steel/The larger the caliber/the harder the traveler/Place merch’ on your earth, one part inhabited”) in the lowest tones of fluidity, gliding through the fluctuating flutes and distant barrel drum placemat with the cymbal snare reset. The continuity of captured elegance of ill adapts to the song structure where the chorus offers the lines to ponder on (“Hate’s well known/Since young I feel this shit/Born with a snub/It’s that love I’m unfamiliar with”). Then the second verse overflows with wordplay (“Go for mine since the time cord was twined/call for book, it’s off the hook, open line/virtually, so thirsty my eyes watered”) that even at Ka’s pacing seems too fast to catch up to. This wordplay concentrates the bars, lowering word count and word choice is where the supremacy is. As “Finer Things” that yields signature summaries of his life from trials to realized purpose (“Bequeath the speech, where’s the fee to reach/Scrapin’ math never late from class, the streets to teach/This is coke and herb spoken word/What you folks observe is what brokeness spurred/Illest notes emerge, still the most preferred…”) and punchlines (“Got bread? We pull the heat, toast is served”) born advice (“Wanna last? Never flash cash, show reserve”) but admittance that the pain makes the meditation mandatory (“What I weep is too deep to chart domestic/This fantastic hand crafted artisan brew/Was casted and mastered for a marvelous few/Truly there’s beauty in this ugly/Scared to put seeds in the uterus that love me/Growing, knowing my roots indeed rotten/Producing bad fruits, all my family tree’s dropping”). The variation in flow is vivid in the union of “Finer Things” with “Tamahagene” as Ka honors the title revealing the sharpness of the sword for a visual of the way fight is formed in the concrete cauldrons of Brownsville, Medina. His lines are shortened, syllables matched more and the intense delivery submerges you with a speed only 3 miles faster but thousands in the contrast, the key.
Arm, leg, leg, arm, he got it. Creator and Creation
To tune two tough, using it is how he be’s with it.
Then the third, the reasons the idea’s to be heard.
Four, five, six fire. Ideas live, thrive and inspire.
Let the rare breathe it, show it to prove it.
So finally Seven foment seminal fruit, supreme foremost
And as hells go, they still are there as you made it
All to change it all with
millions of eight million stories recalled,
the builds of the one and All.
LO, to that idea, love and loyalty to these visions of telemeres in my mind
They gon be born, a fulfilled finish with no finale
Now, cipher sirens self to sigh in mind and swing sword to hind again…
Honor is a Long Player ode to the battle’s infinite collateral [“I nest hate, hold heat so weak in my best shape/You press fate, press late - it's your death date/Get down for the crown, even if it got thorns/Fights are final when might is primal we lock horns” - “I Wish (Death Poem)”], war’s power to slowly refine the rare one’s focus to peace (“Missing hope before rhymin’, windin’ down vicious slope” – “Destined”) while citing of the warrior’s principles off the gun and into the pen (“Singin’ tough upbringin’, swore it was the hardest/A lot of years starvin’, before I was a artist/When bringin’ tomorrow the sorrow plus the hurt/Finally eatin’, reapin’, it’s just dessert/It’s just, so trust my work from dusk to dirt/Committed rhymes, if you give it time, much is learned” – “Conflicted”) unveiling a righteous mission in an timeless opus of a song in “$” (“I need money, not to bling, self-boast or greed reasons/But to bring health to the most diseased regions”).
The soloing instrument of Honor Killed the Samurai is MCing at the most supreme level, constructing themes with story boarding, chorus punctuations, punchline power and word selection that is astonishing and gives him his greatest fluidity yet. No matter how complex this lyric prime and martial insight Ka plays for us it can be rewarded by some technical research along with days, months and years of pensive thought, the greatest jewel of all lyricism to the listener. Its potency is amplified from Ka’s production, his backing band of soaring orchestra sampling, distant drums that work as ceremonies of sight and some of the most profound ideas (“But it was soon patent to every observing mind that the ways of wealth were not the ways of honor”) and alike parallels (“Not infrequently a marching soldier might be seen to halt, take his writing utensils from his belt, and compose an ode”) from Inazo Nitobe’s Bushido, The Soul of Japan. Knowing there is no boundary and that the musicality placed around his stanzas needs to support and emphasize his build, they are better defined by their mood variants. The chaotic high hat drumming on cymbals and guitar licks on “I Wish (Death Poem)” to the intensifying of Lateef’s shouts and rattles into menace on “That Cold And Lonely” to the steady riff drone and backbeat snap on “Mourn At Night” through the digi-blips of “Just” back to the soaring vamps on “Destined” are addictively engrossing. The cliché of Boom Bap gone long ago with Ka, there is actually incredible drumming on the LP where snares, high hats and tempo keeping breaks are all distinct from each other. The depth of the score is a wonderful exercise to find with the ears and prizes one with new intricacies with every listen.
Instruments together, Honor Killed the Samurai is a capsule of timeless understanding born of sincere intent, the trademark of all the martial texts, another proof of Ka’s mic supremacy and unique digging skill.
These are the real ways
Like the samurai or the God as I
To the Tao or the Zen, my sword or my pen.
Worked with these mantras true or knowledge of self on you.
Where we build before we sleep,
kill if you creep
that what we will, we reap.
Sow aware we’ll still die, die
or die, but we lived with fight
to question mysteries high,
and why, why
So when blood or ink, none left,
our love was so meant.
Honor Killed The Samurai, that is, The God as I.