Chief Kamachi – Rise & Rhyme, Vol. 1 Album Review

Chief Kamachi – Rise & Rhyme, Vol. 1 Album Review

By Sunez

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Since Sugarhill Gang stole Grandmaster Caz’ verses, fake niggas have certainly seemed to reign over nearly everyone. And for the decade of the 00’s, the disgustful decadance of purchased realness, conferred validity, sequestered experience and any other bullshit that could be passed off…passed. These decades where our genres savagely deplete via commercialization aren’t new (i.e. 80’s Salsa Romantica, Soul to Disco, etc.) and neither are the great artists of those times that are criminally overlooked. By 2012, it’s shown and proven that many great MCs that never wavered and gave us the hardcore regardless to whom or what were not cherished as they should have been. One major one is Chief Kamachi, who released 3 solo albums (2004’s Cult Status, 2006’s Concrete Gospel, 2010’s The Clock of Destiny), 05’s Black Candles LP with his Juju Mob, a duet album with Killah Priest in ‘08 (Beautiful Minds) and adding on to the first two massive crew LPs of Army of the Pharoahs (2006’s The Torture Papers & 2007’s Ritual of Battle).  Along with Planet Asia, Mr. Lif and J-Live, Kamachi is one of the most prolific MCs of the 00’s and this catalog is a treasure of consistency, ruggedness, crunchy breaks and epic soundscapes to rewind to. With his new LP, Rise & Rhyme, Vol. 1, that 00’s treasure is a prelude to an even more refined MC.

Philadelphia’s hardcore Hip Hop, from the 00’s has been led by healthy break heavy fight music. The powerful predecessors of Wu, Pun and M.O.P. permeate the works of Jedi Mind Tricks, A.O.T.P., Reef the Lost Cauze, Outerspace, etc. and little changes musically with R&R. Despite 14 producers for 17 tracks, the breaks are high treble stuff that only suffer from a Pete Rock/J Dilla like thickness that only Stoupe has reached on the Philly records of the 00’s. Still, the epic nature of violins, horns and gothic choruses drive the works as in “3rd Lecture.” With a specific nature of themes Kamachi engages in, there are fewer missteps (i.e. the empty spaced piano vamped and church chanted “Hood Symphony”) in his beat choices than any other solo album he’s released. One decision that could have been extended the entire LP were the great cuts from DJ White Shadow who peaks on “Chuck D.” For R&R, there is respectful diversity in tempos and nice variety in the drum tracks. All of which direct the necessary highlight, the MC.

For Kamachi, MCing begins with his rugged and raspy voice that has a tone of depth that no amount of sharp snares, sloppy basslines or heavy bass drums can hide. Showing a greater mastery of tempos and developing of pace since Cult Status, his verses don’t slip into a monotone match of the track. The results of experience, Kamachi uses an amped up tempo on the chorus of “90’s Flow” which clashes with violent cymbals and gothic violins, an ill effect. The verses begin fluidly out of the chorus (“Welcome to the Oasis/flow gracious/big gold chain and fat laces/UFO rap shit flyin somethin spacious/but they ain’t ready for that/back to the basics”) and never lose their articulation through ill imagery with a slightly slower tempo. (“old gem, rare book of charms with the gold rim/masterpiece/who are you insulting?/4,000 years I started sculpting/they burned all the libraries down and killed the Sultan…”). This is the type of technical elevation that propels verses really making Mach a superior lyricist.

With such a heavy content for gothic metaphors and anthropological analogies, Kamachi’s commentary of ideas and constantly imparted theme of our Godliness despite our struggles through oppression never wavers. It actually shines effortlessly building on his mission (“Bulletproof Auras”) as an artist or as an epic warrior (“Return of the 7”). Kamachi’s flow is deliberate, controlled and with perfect enunciation delivering a stream of conscious imagery that guides specific ideas as sparking the war (“Barefoot Assassins“), realizing our hells (“Get Rigteous or Die Tryin” and its tales of choices emphasizing the sincerity of one’s intention), reinforcing the real Hip Hop (“music for the people, don’t give a fuck if the fame come” – “Soul Soldiers”) or simply evoking the beauty of our ancestry as his verse on “Savior of Ages”:
“The mystery school chants/spirits the jewels stamp/mysterious triangles that I put on a cool slant/books in the war chest/study for more tests/first semester learned to pop and lock through a vortex/the energy more fresh/move through meridians/the city spin/ink drip from a witty pen/read the stars like a dark skinned Dravidian/M-16 from a marksman that’s Libyan/on a sojourn through the burning sands with three camels, frankincense, myrrh in hands/the angels sing but they prefer to dance/ slow drag til they put me in an urban trance/mic messiah many don’t know the language/don’t understand experience, misery and anguish/the 7th letter is so easy to learn/simple, another lesson that was taught in a burnt temple.”
A brilliant verse that reads beautifully but also is delivered in perfect tempo, with proper pausing, emphasis and that intensity of majesty that makes Hip Hop so meaningful as our cultural expression of once lost, now found Originality. Rise & Rhyme, Vol. 1 starts a new stage of Kamachi’s art with technical vitality, vocal strength and amazing depth that deserve our investigation.

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