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by
30 July, 2003@12:00 am
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Years of building an almost mythic reputation as an innovative lyricist has culminated in C-Rayz Walz’s Ravipops being unleashed through one of hip-hop’s most respected underground labels (Def Jux).  And with it, showcases an MC who’s unpredictable, yet still possesses an uncanny depth and awareness of his surroundings. 

C-Rayz is compelling because there are so many aspects to his style.  On some tracks he sounds as if he just got in the booth and freestyled his verses.  While on others he gives the listener complete coherence so that they understand how much thought is put into his creative process.  His carefree approach is epitomized on his lead single “The Essence”.  Here C-Rayz makes use of clever word association, random cultural references, and a delivery that fluctuates between calm and excitable to entertain listeners.  He leverages these tools again on “Battle Me”, where C-Rayz spits humorous braggadocios rhymes over a hyper string arrangement, with a playful and childlike hook complementing his gruff voice perfectly. 

On the other end of the spectrum is the subversive “Dead Buffalos”, which juxtaposes the slaughter of wild buffalos to the plight of his ancestors and shows sarcastic appreciation to those whose despicable actions in American slavery can be traced.  Tracks such as these show C-Rayz in a more conscious mindset and fit his aggressive persona with ease. 

Unfortunately, there’s frequently a positive correlation between a high track count and filler material.  “Yeah” has a very unimaginative call and response hook that just doesn’t work.  Equally disappointing is the ubiquitous sped-up vocal sample style used on “Camouflage” that hip-hop has been suffocated with for the past couple of years. Despite these mishaps, after listening to his album most may have no idea what Ravipops are, but they will know that C-Rayz Walz is versatile and talented MC.

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