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by
1 January, 2000@12:00 am
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First introduced to the world by Jeru The Damaja, Afu Ra has built a steady fan-base through a consistent string of 12″ singles, despite the major-label woes that delayed the release of his debut album, Body Of The Life Force. Although his former label, Gee Street, folded, Afu has maintained a presence in the underground, and hopes to spread his message even wider with the official release of his album, now through D&D/Koch.

Caught somewhere in between the Gang Starr Foundation and the Wu-Tang Clan, Afu has no problem pulling off a solid release with Body Of The Life Force. While the abundance of singles released from this album does leave us with only half an album’s worth of new material, the time that passed between the release of the singles and the release of the full-length, gives us a retrospective view on many of these already classic joints. Experiencing “Whirlwind Through Cities” and “Defeat” all over again remind us of the quality Afu has put forth over the last few years, and even on the more recent Rastafarian flavors, “D&D Soundclash”  (w/ Cocoa Brovaz) and “Equality” (w/ Ky-Man Marley ), his ability to make timeless tracks shines through.

But while this series of several previously released songs may seem like the party is spoiled for longtime followers, the album is actually sewn together very well with DJ Premier’s interludes and skits, adding the same flavor that made every Gang Starr release a classic. Thankfully, most of the new tracks add to the album’s feeling of completion, and the solid guest list of artists who share Afu’s similar ideals keeps the album’s common focus. Early Wu-Tang flavor is captured brilliantly on both “Bigacts Littleacts” (feat. GZA/Genius) and “Mortal Kombat” (feat. Masta Killa), while the classic essence of D&D remains on several album tracks, such as “Monotony”, “Headquarterz” (w/ Krumb Snatcha), and “Warfare” (w/ M.O.P.). Yet Afu does take a few missteps at times. Both “Bring It Right” and “Calienta” seem like Gee Street’s forced crossover tracks that do nothing more than disrupt the album’s continuity. And – while he does drop knowledge in his rhymes, memorable quotes including “Wake up in the morning with the yearning for food” (a conservative flip on Pharaohe Monch’s morning herb habit) or “Leave that Similak alone, breast feed your seeds”, other times, his flexible vocabulary spitting and heavy-handed subject matter can lose the listeners attention.

Nevertheless, while still not as seasoned of an emcee as his forefathers, Guru and Jeru, Afu-Ra certainly knows how to pull off what can be considered classic material, and definitely is rolling with the right crew.

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