It never was time for philosophies of that peace. My peace is the absence of confusion. And I’m breaking all them pieces that aint peace off right now, motherfucker. Stand still, I’ll swing with the hungered might of seventy lions on the last striking stride of the chase. Flee and I roll the wheels of Ezekiel over you, a biblical prophecy so violently precise as if the Nicea council were my ghostwriters. All with my complicated genius of planned anger, devised by the funneled daring of the greatest Black rebellions, the harkened stomping edits of Hannibal, resurrected moving verbatim aeronautics as Jordan parquet floor composed and a literary muscle structure prose alike Bruce Lee. All in the textured brutality of a million Alexandria libraries opening for my Black people in every gentrified white neighborhood near you. Textbooks read, women Earth’d up and brothers building regardless to whom or what, battles filled with the casualties of ignorance. Post up the universal flag. Smashed under where we stand, the peace of understanding through War Poetry…
Dom Pachino is an MC essential to the real as one of the pioneers of the transition of great solo artists to independent viability, of Boricuas MCing (and with a knowledge of self from the 5% Nation of Gods and Earths) and of one of the most powerfully constructed sounds of mic worth for our people, the Killarmy score. Over 12 LPs since the 3rd and last Killarmy LP, Fear, Love and War, he is one of the most unheralded MCs as all his pioneering are exactly the feats that the industry profits off concealing. And so they’re some of the jewels that need to be worn premierely here.
There are some exceptional feats that born the blessings of independent movement that this counterculture’s most viable product exploited had to make to survive. While we have the banned artists as Cormega triumph with The Realness, Hieroglyphics reassembling through their Hiero Emporium and Public Enemy leading it all off the majors completely indie by ‘99, Dom Pachino had the growing trial of offering an entire group’s fulfillment alone. With most of Killarmy releasing no LPs the last near 15 years except for 9th Prince, Dom Pachino’s work is massively appreciated for the extra ordinary consistency in rugged sound but misheralded is the development of charismatic character, personal stories, extended understanding and a varied vocal stylism that goes beyond the established Killarmy formats. We learned of his dynamic inflections, conversational tones that spoke directly to the listener and extensions to his autobiography on wax. While Hiero had supreme success reuniting the crew and then soloing off wu-ishly, the Puerto Rican Terrorist was an island alone. While Cormega achieved illness repeatedly and PE brought their large fanbase with them, Pachino did it tenfold mastering his quality with immense quantity amidst greater difficulties.
It leads to the 3rd pioneering aspect, being Boricua and relaying that experience of the Original man. The only other independent great that is just as consistent and unheralded is Thirstin Howl the 3rd. No coincidences to this as both are Boricuas that the industry can’t and more importantly won’t sell. Those motherfuckas I do know because my pen was stalled the same way on the media acre of the Hip Hop industry plantation. The Puerto Rican is a co-creator of the culture but absolutely a liability in the industry’s eyes. They are a shade of Black that confuses the target markets that only sell one of them, the African American. Countless MCs, legend to sellout trash, of the Black diaspora are lumped into the acceptable if the phenotypes are exact. Just as Fat Joe once revealed to this writer that he was initially suggested the ridiculous proposal to be a Freestyle [the labeled genre to mask the dance R&B Puerto Ricans and Latinos made, so as to not confuse the primarily white purchasing markets of the many shades of Black] singer, Dom Pachino faced an uphill battle going solo from Killarmy.
To those really listening it meant something to have Killarmy representing the knowledge of self with a Power Rule [Puerto Rican] in the midst. It is an abnormal burden that any MC has to represent every viewpoint of their people when they are the only one who broke in with such special insights and matched skills. Yet this is Pachino’s reality. The Puerto Rican experience, having the knowledge of self, building through the specific focus of Killarmy’s militant vision all make Dom one of the most unique MC perspectives to emerge solo. Now, the Killarmy vision is a sight that we are the oppressed fighting a war for our survival with the understanding of self, our only enlightenment. Didn’t seem that deep to the simpleton head bobbing to 4th Disciple’s cinematic sample sonics and break supremacy yet the mission reveals itself in time. The longer the hells draw, the way a young man realizes he is the sole controller but so many controls seek to take his soul. So the way of the simple bench press, squat and dead lifts all become more than for a look but a foundation of training. Simple aerobics are now Kung Fu metamorphosis moves, book reading is now “mental calisthenics” and you’re now the General of your family. Black and Brown—and anyone poor and righteous—are under attack from TVs to DTs, lies and spies, corrupt institutions and corrupted individuals.
Dom Pachino’s solo work also had the unfair and incorrect expectation to reflect the Killarmy vision of the six man wetting. Yet what we received since 2002’s Tera Iz Him debut LP through this War Poetry have been his specific protocols, experiences and understanding to the whole Killarmy vision. They have been exceptional extensions that have not been fully appreciated because, except for 9th Prince, none of the other Killarmy members have really shared their solo visions. We also have not and will not receive another complete Killarmy album anytime soon. So the intimate jewels of “My Lil’ G” and “Tear Drops,” the journeys of “You Used to Be,” the commentaries of “Fuk Critics,” altered flows of “Ain’t Sorry” and extended understanding of “Mommy Always Told Me” and “Righteous Seed” unite into a 200 plus song catalog over 14 years that define an unheralded giant in Hip Hop music. A catalog that when heard is individually judged with strong LPs (i.e. Unreleased, 2002; Domination, 2004; The Arsenal, 2005; Gunz An Glory: A Soldier Story, 2006) and exceptional ones (i.e. Tera Iz Him, 2002; Tera Iz Him 2, 2009; The Last Armageddon, 2011] that have the most worth as a whole where the classic tracks and strongest verses accumulate over listenings to become a thematic portrait much like the catalogs of NaS, Sadat X, Thirstin, J-Live or KRS-One (post 200’s work). Coupling Dom Pachino’s abilities in song construction, mastering his archetypal fast Boom Bap flow with his idiosyncratic vocal styles and his growing as a selector and arranger of LP themes, he now has a supreme LP with War Poetry that will be treasured as a classic even if Pachino achieves the feat again and again or if Killarmy reunites right and exact.
The precision of War Poetry’s balance of anthemic ruggedness with insight song statements and intimate accounts never losing the Boom Bap reveal an expertise Pachino can easily replicate. It is that like Sunz of Man’s Hell Razah and Killah Priest or Ghostface Killah, Raekwon, GZA, RZA and Method Man of Wu-Tang Clan, Dom Pachino is a presenter of works that has become ill distinct while essential supplemental to his group.
DOM PACHINO: I got really hungry on this album. I was real disgusted. I got in tune with myself more. This album I came back. I was fed up. I announced my retirement on my last album [The Last Armageddon, 2011] just because I was fed up with the whole politics of it all. But I’m sitting there and when you’re passionate at what you love to do and are great at it I started working. Me and Bronze [Nazareth] started talking. I’m a businessman and they loving the way I’m moving. They wondering how. Dude, I’m a fucking scientist. I’m not here to bullshit. I been doing this too long. I gotta get what I want. I like to move diligent and also militant. It’s all in the structure and the way of life that I promote.
An album deliberately sequenced and successfully executed, the pure, raw essence of the battle ready militant soldier P leads the first half of the LP. The thematic essence and bio portrait of Pachino runs the second half. Musically, this is the best arrangement work on the raids of Bronze’s treasured beat folders since Phillie’s Welcome To The Detroit Zoo [#ArtOnArt & #ScienceOnMusic review HERE]. Bronze, a supreme beatmaker allows the MCs to work on their projects as they see fit. Here, Pachino took a lead arranger role and his selection is supreme. With so many superior Bronze produced works this year from Canibus’s Time Flys, Life Dies… Phoenix Rise and the debuts by Wisemen brothers Salute da Kidd [Diggstown #ArtOnArt & #ScienceOnMusic review HERE] and Illah Dayz [Illahstrator #ArtOnArt & #ScienceOnMusic review HERE], the most consistently dynamic beat selections are here in War Poetry. For multiple reasons it’s actual from the years we’ve realized Bronze work fits perfect with anything Killarmy, Pachino’s superior arranging and MC selection for cuts and the success of hooks, themes and subjects are married to the right beats. The lead “Intro I’m a Soldier” with Bronze’s thick, rolling, march drums lets Pachino bio his mind to this point of creative moment. Then the maraca shaking and handclap snares for “Forbidden Fruit,” the thick guitar plucks and hard basic bass drum thuds of “9 Henchman,” or the Al Green wails and vibing throughout the up tempo horns of “Guilty Conscience” are all superbly matched to Dom’s themes. The collection then becomes hardcore posse banger and thematic boom bap builds, each as anthemic as the other.
DOM PACHINO: Bronze is a great producer. He gave me six full folders of beats. He has lots I can use and things that I can’t. It may be great for a Canibus album but not for me or anyone else he’s working with at the time. I went through all of that and got the protein that I needed. I organized and arranged the whole album. Bronze provided the selection I chose from and did some of the skits. He found skits that went exactly with what I was asking for. All the drops, the way its supposed to go I did all that. Then I would send it back to Bronze for the final mix of the sound. To make it sound right like bringing the bass down if anything was muffled, I let him know and he worked it. All the way down to the artwork I told Paragone at Celestial Productions what I wanted. I took the picture, where I want to be to the theme. The assumption that Bronze knew what I needed for the beats is really incorrect. Bronze had the beats and I knew what to select.
The guest MC use reads blatant but is all to perfection. The guest leads are his protégé, the smooth flowing Bugsy Da God and Leatha Fase. While Bugsy’s incredible fluidity and dynamically articulate ferocity (“the legion/massacre the region/like demons/a season for beating heathen/a reason they cause treason…”) is a mere prelude to his beat and bar packed sophomore LP, Camouflage Disciple, Leatha Fase leaves us after two incredible verses on “Warheadz” (“Swallow dictionaries, wash it down with a thesaurus/a fast imagination, my metaphors are enormous..”) and “Sin of Tera” (“the slanted edge boxcutter reconstruct/ the structure/ destruct/ the shootout/ worse than a shooting range, destructor…”). Along with Killa Sin, Leatha is the most heralded Wu-related MCs without debut LPs. The glory of Killarmy that Pachino excels at is in making the battle cut of substance and songs as “Guilty Conscience” with an ideal choice of builder in Prodigal Sunn is an ideal example. As Sunn adds on “we the innocent running from the guilty” and Pachino’s verses are a wonderful portrait of the street privates warring. The Wisemen crew repped by Phillie and Lord Jessiah unite with Napalm amazingly on “Unconscious Kiss” where Phillie’s verse continues his stylistic Soulman genius with inflection and grit while Lord Jessiah continues his lyrical rise with a explosive end (“ignorance bliss/clenched lips/all puckered/still flinch from an unconscious kiss”). Probably the illest extended posse cut of the year is “9 Henchman” where every MC put their fury in on the verses. C Rayz’ expected cleverness with our 5% dialect, the God Sav Killz’s vivid imagery via the weather, Dro Pesci’s bold bars, Timbo King’s layered brilliance Shyhiem’s monotone, flow chop crop and Bronze’s syncopated fragements of depth death all while Pachino leads with his angriest bars that literally are the conversations to his audience on his standards of musical integrity.
SUNEZ: There was an intimacy to the War Poetry release party. You gave a great show but it had commentary between songs that really was profound.
DOM PACHINO: It still would’ve have been the same with me dropping the jewels. It wasn’t a packed event. It was more intimate and it was designed that way. I didn’t want to bore the crowd that did come out to represent because you had the guy doing the hosting. I felt that it wasn’t gonna grab them as me. I grabbed the mic and it got the attention. My shows are always deep like that and I like to build with the crowd.
SUNEZ: And now you have fans that expect things. What becomes the purpose of the ever developing artist?
DOM PACHINO: When I started making music I didn’t make it for a fan base. I didn’t have a fan. I didn’t know what a fan was. I made music because it’s something I love to do and for the competition amongst my brothers. Who’s the best rapper on the street or in the hood? I never made this for fan reaction. When you make art, you do it for you and what’s in you. You let your artistic ability pour out. You also want to evolve as an artist. If I did a hundred militant gun shooting albums, maybe there is one album I don’t want to do that for. Does that make me wack now? Or are you following me as a complete artist to see and be open to my whole realm of work? That’s what people don’t understand. Some will say, ‘P, you sound like you have a little more energy?’ Yeah, because I brought back that fast, choppy rap flow. I know it’s in me. It didn’t go anywhere. Sometimes I have to just sit and think of what they really want. I figured let me give them now-a-day beats of what that Killarmy sound is today. And Bronze is the producer of that, the modern day sound of that. Let me give them my fast Killarmy crazy shit.
Like Pachino’s live show, his lyrics are not a distant, condescending barrage of mighty phony proclamations that rise above the heads of the listener. Dom P’s bravado is at infinite peaks in every daily measure but walk with a brother and his levels of peace weigh a ton of sincerity. He lists successes on “Talk Less and Do More” to note, “when you on top the bottom can’t hold you back/when you on the bottom you got weight on your shoulder/the hate start to build up/your heart grows older” and concludes he’s the “only Power Rule nigga to stem from the clan/and he created a brand/[Napalm] with a militant and a mic in his hand…” There are the intimacies of “Forbidden Fruit” where P told me, “It’s an intimate opening of my closet. I’ve had relationships with girls that were married and cheating behind their husbands’ backs. In return, my wifey stepped out on me after all the shit I’ve done did to her. They weren’t at the same time though. The first two girls were different and the last one was wifey at the time. I did a lot of shit so when it was done to me I ate it. I swallowed my blood and just tried to keep it going and build with her. It didn’t work out but that was me opening up on my issues with trust. So its forbidden fruit. Its seems tempting but it’s not for you.” The LP moves through a bevy of builds and song’d plus lessons and it begins with the bombing of “Haunted Dreamz” where the first verses cementing the battle lines with a stuttered slow flow (“I just beat four felonies and that’s an actual fact so check out my melody/my whole team is gooned out/and have of them wasn’t locked up/I’d bring my platoon out/to smack you in your silver spoon mouth/and drop high science, nigga/ for all my militant clients, nigga/this is the alliance, nigga, Napalm, Wisemen, music defiance”). As he reaches the end he bombs up Cilvaringz and gave me the reasons:
DOM PACHINO: I did a track for Cilvaringz first album. He wanted me to do a track that Killa Sin was on too. I was supposed to be paid the same as him. We negotiated and I went on the track too. I went to the studio and I wrote for him, a track called “Man, Woman and Child.” He says afterwards that he ran out of his budget. Killa and everyone else got paid. He asked if he can still use it. I said you can’t. I don’t know him like that and he’s not family so it is what it is. I should’ve got paid just for working. You do some construction work and put a deck up and they don’t want it, you still get paid for the work you put in. If I don’t get paid what happened to the studio time I gave to create the work? He never got the money and never paid me. Then I find it licensed to some company with my vocals on it, my name and Cilvaringz’ name attached to it all.
Also, I had then looked to the Wu-Tang Corp website he runs to have a banner put up when I promoted my last album (The Last Armageddon). Coming to him on a business tip with money and he overcharged, pretty ridiculous. It was way more than UndergroundHipHop (ughh.com) who I’ve done business with in the past and they’re a bigger site. Those guys give me great deals. Now you’re a fan of this first. Respect the generals of this Wu shit. Second, this is a fan based site for a Wu-Tang fan base. I see banners there for years and all I want is a fresh banner. So I didn’t buy it.
Another time he called me to do a show in Sri Lanka at the last minute and telling me there’s no money. But it’s for a good cause, some anti-terrorism thing. I said I’ll go but I’m bringing one of my dudes. He says no. I’m not going to Sri Lanka by myself. Now I know he’s done it with my Killarmy brothers—made money putting on shows off their name. You could make a lot of money if RZA cosigns you and he’s doing that.
Still, the jeweled theme of War Poetry is that the greatest warriors are the daily soldiers of respect. And while “Pearly Gates” bios how he’d love to be remembered, the bar bravado he expresses on “Rich In Respect” and “Mental Calisthenics” details the ethos. All anthemically done from chorus to verse pitch variety to support intellectual thought, paying dues and original work, Pachino’s continues to be subtly potent. Possessing an idiosyncratic pacing, adding extra vowels via word choices (“you try to sever me/bury me alongside a cherry/in Westbury/where they grow celery/that’s what ya tellin me?/scratch that…”) that constantly keep the flow unpredictable. They inject a persona and charisma beyond the rugged hardcore we see in the lyric fatigues. The charisma excels on “S.WA. (Spics Wit Attitudes)” with oft kilter inflections and exclamations while on “Warheadz” his clarity excels in power vocals to cut through the vocal siren and drum crash snares Bronze lays down. The quality of the lyrics themselves shine throughout as on “Sin of Tera,” as he drops, “first things first, you fucking with the real/from Staple-tils/don’t get ya cap peeled…victim of my environment/when you’re employed on them streets/sometimes you get an early retirement/six feet deep/no pension/just the tension/not to mention/I can’t enjoy blowing them racks if I’m fenced in…” Essentially War Poetry becomes a very concise primer of Dom Pachino from his Killarmy ethos to the details of his persona behind incredibly arranged production. Nearly all the songs can be chosen standouts while all of them have a very distinct purpose as part of the cohesive project. A work that stands so close to the Killarmy LPs it’s like Pachino’s catalog in that it may be bizarrely cherished and unheralded simultaneously.
DOM PACHINO: I could officially say I’m underrated and say I don’t get the respect I deserve in this business. They know I’m hot and my pen is ill. You gotta understand I came out before BIG PUN. We came out in 96. Now I was part of a small handful of Boricuas. There are more but the struggle is still there.
There are Gods that born themselves in righteousness. They sit in stillness and surmise the shape of the universe as they sculpt pyramids. I don’t know them niggas. I’m built for these times. I be or born now, a nigga uniform on God. So we need generals of sound to drum a daily war, battles every hour with only minutes of R&R and platoons gathered gully by bodegas. And as the war rages, the tampered holy become honorably righteous, word to stanza, stanzas stack poetry, today authored Dom Pachino. And the poetry’s creation inspires men to recreate themselves. Skillastrator saw just us here, the justice of paint plots to a path of a militia score proceeding in rebellion…