MASTA KILLA: Loyalty Is Royalty

RELEASED: September 29, 2017, Nature Sounds, Review written by Michael Grant, C.E.O. of RePPiN4U & International Rep of Wu Worldwide DJ Coalition

Masta Killa is a man of the people. More specifically, the Wu-Tang fans. He’s that dude that may not come when you call but he’s always on time. He knows what the fans want, and for three albums straight, he has delivered. Fans knew of this album for a good few years now, they expected it to drop in 2012, but instead Masta Killa ‘seemingly changed Masta-Killa-Loyalty-Is-Royaltyjpegthe title of the album to ‘Selling My Soul’ which was a great project drenched with soulful vibes. The title track ‘Loyalty Is Royalty’ would eventually appear on 9th Wonder’s own project and brought HaLo into the mix, which led to the joint project – ‘Mansa Musa’ which dropped in 2014. This was a nice stop-gap to the true destination which is this album right here. Just like the latest projects from Prodigal Sunn, Rez SPS Kings and the Clan themselves, this album couldn’t have come at a better time.

Ming-Hsueh Lin provides the album’s intro, which is a calm but deadly melody, those traits are often used to describe the clan’s laid back but machete wielding member, before diving into a good ol’ boom bap banger ‘Return Of Thee Masta Kill’ with Cappadonna & Young Dudas. Now here’s a guy who has the word ‘Young’ before his name and is a dope MC. So heads take notes, just because somebody has ‘Young’ or ‘Lil’ before their name does not necessarily mean they are wack!

Moving into the album’s title track as mentioned earlier, was brought into existence five years ago, but still sounds as fresh as ever. This is the original version without HaLo, and sees Masta Killa refer to Loyalty as his woman so the track can be taken as a double meaning.

In ‘Therapy’, Masta & Method Man feel the same way as we do as regards to being around this music, and Redman has really molded in well with the clan. 10 years ago, I would laugh at people who said Redman was an official member… I cannot give the same kind of response now.

One thing that is admirable about Masta Killa (and the rest of the clan for that matter) is that these guys are headed for their 50s, and yet, they always have high praise for the Older Gods. Respecting their elders is a powerful trait which must be upheld, such as what this Dame Grease produced single suggests.

RZA chimes in to break down the meaning of Loyalty is Royalty. Let’s hope Phonte of Little Brother doesn’t hear this interlude, as his imitation of RZA in ‘The Story of US’ parody project was one of the most hilarious things ever recorded.

Consider the next track as what I like to call a ‘counteraction’ of Shyheim’s track of the Masta Killa Loyalty Is Royalty2same name. 9th Wonder flips the track ‘Trouble’ slows it down to match the pace of the 9th member of the bunch’s flow.

Masta Killa’s Skit is cruel. It feels so good to have True Master behind the boards, but with it being a minute long, it leaves you begging for more verses. It’s like being on a cooking show or wine tasting show and you can only have one bite.

This is such an album highlight, another Wu Camp Clik or Camp Wu Banga, Sean Price & Masta Killa connect on a 9th Wonder scorcher in ‘Down with Me’. Fans can now practically take these collaborations and create their own playlist on iTunes. Wu-Tang and Boot Camp need to stop the teasing and create that crossover album. Failing that, I sincerely hope Masta Killa convinces Ghostface Killah – ‘executive producer’ of the next Wu album to get 9th Wonder on the production team.

The next track is begging for the visual treatment… Tiger & The Mantice featuring GZA & Inspectah Deck sees producer Blocade tapping into the Wu-Tang sound. When these three get together on a track it is just pure magic. Wu-Massacre 2 anyone? YES PLEASE!

You want more gunplay? Masta Killa will be more than happy to oblige. This time featuring Prodigy & KXNG Crooked in ‘Real People’. Prodigy shows once again why he was far from ready to return to the essence and KXNG Crooked is an unlikely feature to say the least but it works.

If the previous three albums from Masta Killa has taught us anything, is that he will go outside the box and surprise you. ‘Flex With Me’ featuring Chanel Sosa  samples from the classic Scarface movie and flips Mad Cobra’s ‘Flex’ and this goes down really well. With

Chanel Sosa Good Lovin

CLICK HERE FOR CHANEL SOSA WEBSITE

this and ‘Lovely Lady’ from made In Brooklyn, it makes me want to pick Masta Killa’s brains as far as his love for reggae dancehall. Where this was a hit, the next track is a miss. ‘Calculated’ should be called ‘Mis-Calculated’ because this is Masta Killa’s attempt of making a club track with that ‘trap feel to it’ and it just doesn’t work. It also goes on a bit too long as well. At least there is no mumbling. Oh wait… there’s the hook… I stand corrected.

However The High Chief Jamel Irief makes up for that and goes deeper into his Wu Gambino alias – Noodles in a two-part story, the first part produced by !llmind and the second part produced by Masta Killa himself which sees a smooth, moonlight backdrop. With a nice applause at the end, the album ends with a somber piano tone by Ming-Hsueh Lin.

From this point forward, call Masta Killa Mr 2nd Most Consistent member of the clan. (Next to Ghostface Killah). Even with that ‘Calculated mis-step’, it’s understandable that veterans would want to jump on a beat like that to attract newer audiences and show them how it’s done. The most glaring difference between this and it’s predecessors are the album’s producers and features. This time around it seems more star-studded and not just Wu appearances. Masta Killa should find his crown and fix it on his head because it is rightfully deserved.

THE INFAMOUS…HAVOC & BIG NOYD LIVE @2FunkyMusicCafe, Leicester November 2, 2017!

REVIEW WRITTEN BY MICHAEL GRANT, C.E.O. of RePPiN4U, International Rep for Wu Worldwide DJ Coalition

HISTORY WAS MADE ON THIS NIGHT.

Sometimes I wonder, had the tragedy that came to pass on June 20, 2017 not happen, would this night have happened?

Sure, had Prodigy ‘not choke on an egg’ as media reported, there is no doubt they would have sold out the 2Funky Music Cafe in Leicester, but this was a special night. Firstly big Havoc Big Noydshout out to friend of RePPiN4U – Big Twins, who was on the original line up, but for reasons unknown to RePPiN4U, he was taken off the flyer. In his place, The Infamous…Big Noyd. upon hearing this news on the lead up to the show, not only was the anticipation increased with fans, but it also landed on Prodigy’s birthday. This would be the first Mobb Deep show in the UK without Prodigy in the physical, and on his birthday no less. They would perform in Bristol & London following this, but that extra birthday spirit may not have been there like Leicester had. Not just that, but also learning of Havoc’s reaction upon hearing about Prodigy’s passing, this night may not have happened at all, we could have lost both, and Hip Hop may have never recovered from that. Hip Hop still has the war wounds of Dilla, Sean Price, Ol’ Dirty Bastard, Phife Dawg, Baatin and so much more.

Personally this is the first time I have seen this at a Hip Hop gig, but it’s definitely something that should be encouraged at every show: Big shout out to the catering company which Shakezpeare and the NGE (New Golden Era) crew laid on for the crowd. Supplying currygoat, rice, fried chicken coleslaw, dumplings while the night progressed was GENIUS. Because I got the ‘John Witherspoon’ guts, I was very careful with my selection of food… kept well away from the hot sauce I tell ya (Too Much Information)

Shout out to DJ Predator Prime for supplying the music while the crowd was in chill mode. Always a pleasure to hear good hip hop selection and not just the 90s anthems being played.

Again, it could be an observation going by my last outing at 2Funky Music Cafe, but they seemed to have learned from not putting on so many opening acts before the main event. The Sky Walker Crew kicked off the show making their Darth Vader entrance, and had a short but entertaining set, including their big black history anthem ‘Bloodline’ which received a great response from the crowd.

Shakezpeare

Photo taken courtesy of Limitless Vision & New Golden Era Records

Next up was resident MC – Shakezpeare, who always ups his game each time he performs. Starting his set with his counteraction to the Deep Cover track, this is the third time I have seen him live, and this time he took his performance into the crowd and made the entire 2Funky Music Cafe his stage performing hits like ‘They’re Full of Sh!t’, ‘Top Boy’ and ‘That I Know’. If DJ L.E.S. tells Shakezpeare he is going on with big things – best believe that’s the truth.

L.E.S. warms the crowd up with some big anthems, and then cleverly switches to the biggest tunes from Queensbridge, before Big Noyd runs onto the stage like he’s doing the long jump. The energy this man had was amazing, especially when he drops one of his biggest hits – Recognize & Realize, which had the capacity crowd going wild and begging for a rewind! (Side note – the day I left school in 1996, Recognize & Realize Part 1 & 2 was my #1 favourite tune at the time) so this had a special place in my heart.

Fifteen minutes later Havoc bursts on the stage starting the party with ‘Survival of the Fittest’. Make no mistake – this was NOT a concert, this was NOT a performance. This was a straight party dedicated to the birthday boy – Prodigy with both guys (and in some cases – the crowd) reciting the necessary Prodigy verses. The party was a straight

Mobb Deep Vijay Mistry

Photo courtesy of Vijay Mistry

rollercoaster of big tunes, I personally loved the fact that the last time I was at 2Funky, Kool G Rap performed ‘The Realest’, it felt like this time, Havoc & Noyd presented their side of the story on the same track.

I also liked the fact that Havoc went out to perform some big tunes from their 2014 album, and the crowd went along and kept up with the pace. You name the Mobb Deep hit, Havoc & Noyd performed it, with the exception of anything from the Juvenile Hell album which may have been the night’s only criticism. That would have really shown Havoc & Noyd who was REALLY down with Mobb Deep.

Despite that minor point, the celebration ended as powerful as it started with Mobb Deep’s biggest hits – Quiet Storm & Shook Ones Pt II. No tune can go after Shook Ones Pt II especially after letting that beat ride out.

HISTORY WAS MADE ON THIS NIGHT.

What a night this was, and will never be duplicated. My deepest sympathies go out to those who couldn’t make it to the show under their own power. I cannot speak for Bristol & London but Havoc & Noyd announced that because it was Prodigy’s birthday, they were staying to embrace their fans, and boy did they ever. They were taking pictures with everyone in sight, and special shout out to Big Noyd himself, who pretty much became Rapper Noyd AND Prodigy on stage. He was unbelievable. Prodigy looked upon Leicester from the heavens and gave that extra energy. Big Noyd gathered many of us together and spoke to us on a level about communicating with each other more in the age of social media when having phones in our hands reigns supreme, and also he shared his regrets with us when he spoke about Prodigy trying to school him about the Illuminati and what was in store when he admitted to laughing it off. I dare say many of us (myself included) had a feeling of regret as well, as some of us had never seen Mobb Deep live up until this point, and the reality that we will never see Prodigy, which is why shows like this, I encourage you to see your favourite artists live, because you just never know.

Infamous Grant & Infamous Havoc

REZ SPS KINGS & TIMBO KING – Bar Essentials

RELEASED: OCTOBER 6, 2017, Absalom Recordz/Real Estate Records, Review by Michael Grant, C.E.O. of RePPiN4U & International Rep for Wu Worldwide DJ Coalition

“…I’m watching the Brandy video, I’m watching brothers doing Janet Jackson and Brandy choreography, the same stuff they doing since the first academy awards, nahmean? So I’m buggin’ off of that right there, so right now there is about to be another flood of Wu-Tang, coz I think we got the strongest name that a group got right now that can bring it back through to the people, and right now it’s about to be a flood…and this flood should reinstate Hip Hop, and if this don’t do it, we might as well wait til the next generation…” (RZA, sometime between 1998-1999)

RZA might as well have said this in 2017. Check it out. Wu Wear has recently relaunched. One off singles randomly came out (Don’t Stop) & (Savor.Wavs) Then DJ Allah Mathematics took everyone off guard with ‘People Say’ followed by The Saga Continues REZ SPS KINGS (BAR ESSENTIALS FRONT COVER)album. Just before that, Masta Killa proved once again that by sticking to the formula, Loyalty is Royalty. Then Prodigal Sunn comes out with a solid offering weeks later in ‘The Spark’.

In the midst of this flood, Rez SPS Kings & Timbo King believe in the ‘Bar Essentials’, a beautifully worded title which sees the two emcees strip Hip Hop down to just that – Bar(e) Essentials, which is Concept, Lyrics, Attitude, Music, and Performance, and they are not alone, they have brought along an army of  a who’s who in the Wu-Tang Killa Beez from the well-known originals (Dom Pachino, Kinetic 9) all the way to the more recent and obscure (Lord Fury, iNTeLL).

The great thing about the Clan and the Killa Beez is there is always a running theme in their albums, for example the Clan keep on the Shaolin Kung Fu side, Killah Priest goes into a spiritual chamber, Dirty was that drunken master, Meth was your man when it came to getting high and kissing the sky, Rae was your Mafia type dude, Killarmy were all about the war, and so on and so forth. Rez and Timbo take us to a Medieval, Game of Thrones like – chamber, and that’s the tone set as soon as you press play.

No messing about, bombs are dropped. Spirit Bombs that is alongside Solomon Childs, but it’s Bliss who shines here putting guys on blast who are feminizing themselves to stay current, when that comes from a female, alarm bells should be ringing. Too many cats caught up in the ‘Matrix’ as Kinetic 9 chimes in over a battling backdrop.

The furious pace continues in ‘Man Made Slaves’ featuring none other than Lord Fury who states that’s what we are if we believe in mystery gods and the reality of the New World Order. Rez continues the onslaught not sword swinging but rather axe swinging, determined to chop the ball and chain off our ankles.

Big shout out to fellow Wu Coalition brother DJ Flipcyide who lends his hands on the ones and twos just in case any challenger feels like an ‘Enemy’…

SOUND THE WAR HORNS!!! Anything iNTeLL touches becomes Golden just like his daddy. A visual may be needed here (hint hint!) The Symphony of the Damned really puts the listener in that zone as Rez & Grone Da Radikal sound like they are about to perform a justice execution in the most torturous way possible.

BAR ESSENTIALS DISC IMAGE

The sequence of tracks thus far in the project flow very well. Kinetic 9 and DJ Flipcyide rejoin the duo in Catastrophic Prophets. They have really captured the sound of the dark ages right here, and combining them with straight bangers like that displayed in Xerox Clones, and Witty is as grainy and basement sounding as you can get, that’s the sound fans kind of wanted in The Saga Continues, proving that sound can still be created in 2017/2018.

Timbo King shines here as he gives vivid storytelling in the Bionic Homeless Man. Rez & Stumik complement him well. The violins are out in one of the album’s highlights – Chemtrails. Shabazz The Disciple is straight fire on this, Rez refuses to be out-rhymed, and Lord Fury, well his voice will tell you how he feels about the wickedness.

You may have heard Solomon Childs cry out on ‘Mama Can You Hear Me’ from the Theodore Unit 718 mix tape, this is the flip side, Rez & Dom are asking their Fathers if they can hear them, and by the sounds of this, their biologicals have faltered again… it’s a reoccurring and frustrating topic. Notice – the violin is said to be an instrument mainly symbolical to sadness, and there is not an ounce of sadness shown here, yet the violin is featured in Chemtrails and the next track – Dueling Kings, and it’s not even used for sadness. You got Rez & Timbo out on a sparring session with the bars here, complimented with a great jewel in the sample used.

BAR ESSENTIALS INSIDE PANTHLET

Raise Your Swords people, we have reached the album’s close. From top to bottom, Rez & Timbo stay true to their word – the album is straight BARS, some of which the listener may not dissect on the first go round, but it will take quite a few listens to fully break it all down. For those Hip Hop fans out there who cannot stand any R&B elements in the music, they will be overjoyed here as that is non-existent in this project. If there are any criticisms, it’s that one or two of the beats sound passable, and may need a visual to bring it out, and that’s all this album needs, is to knock out a few visuals. But from Lord Fury’s disregard for religion to Rez’ lyrical flow to Timbo’s storytelling to Dom Pachino’s disappointment in his father, this is a good project which deserves the CD changer with the latest flood of Clan/Killa Bee offerings.

Massive respect to Rez & Timbo for including us in their inlay shout outs. That means a lot to us. SALUTE.