Saturday, 31 July 2010

Rakaa - Crown of Thorns

Emcee with the Los Angeles-based underground hip-hop group Dilated Peoples, Rakaa Iriscience released his first solo effort, Crown of Thorns, in the UK this week. There's been minimum fanfare or press coverage surrounding the release, which has gone unnoticed by all except dedicated hip-hop fans, but listening to the 13 tracks on Crown of Thorns there's a good chance that this could find an audience through word of mouth alone. Rakaa is joined by some of the underground's big hitters too, including Mad Lion, KRS-One and the unmistakeable baritone of Chali 2na.

High Points

Ambassador Slang is a rocking party tune, featuring the longest list of guest emcees I think I've ever seen. It sounds like Rakaa has invited around all his friends for an international freestyling battle. KRS-One's contribution on Human Nature (Now Breathe) is typically incendiary. The track tackles the issue of man's impact on nature with Rakaa rapping about "ice caps melting, oceans swelling", and fittingly about "oils spills that burns the baby seals", while KRS provides the refrain "understand that I am the breeze / And the trees, the oceans and seas".

Mezcal changes up the pace slightly, with a laid back, south of the border feel. It would be the perfect soundtrack to the coolest cinco de Mayo celebrations in town.

The Verdict

Crown of Thorns isn't going to be the best hip-hop album of the year, it's not likely to be on my, or many other peoples', year end lists. The problem is it won't live long in the mind, but it is the kind of album you'll enjoy while listening to it. Dilated Peoples fans, and followers of West Coast hip-hop should definitely check it out.

Final Score: 66%


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