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by Max Herman
17 August, 2004@12:00 am
0 comments

    On Chief Kamachi’s long-awaited debut, Cult Status, his hunger to be heard oozes out of his commanding voice. Like the title of this album implies, this Philly-native has garnered quite a following. But this has been achieved through collaborations and by recording only a handful of songs (Remember “Nile Nutrition” featuring the Last Emperor?). Now with a full-length release to his name and a legion of underground heads listening closely, Kamachi has no choice but to show and prove; with a delivery as consistently powerful as Freddie Foxxx and some good old boom-bap to back it up, Chief Kamachi does just that.

     While pretty much any other MC would come across sounding corny rapping over a beat sampling the Rocky theme music in his intro, Kamachi proves to enter triumphant doing just that on his “1st Lecture”. And his energy doesn’t waver. Kamachi was obviously brought up under the KRS-One school of rhyming where keeping things hard-hitting is essential–regardless of the subject matter. Listening to cuts like the unyielding “The Edge” the listener can begin to understand more of why this righteous lyricist is so heated. From losing family members to being deceived by the church, it’s evident that Kamachi has had to put up with more than the average man could handle. On the album’s closing cut, “Still Searching”, we are taken even further into Kamachi’s inner-struggles as we learn how his mother’s death has made him question his faith in God. As Kamachi boldly says in the chorus, “I was searching for something that wasn’t there/ giving all my love to something that didn’t care.”

     When it comes to more traditional hip-hop numbers like “The Best” (featuring Guru), listeners will find that Cult Status is a consistently heartfelt album, even if it isn’t always as personal as “Still Searching”. On “Liberated Wax”, for example, Kamachi is able to put a new spin (on a not so new topic) as he calls out all the record labels pushing acts that can’t rhyme–and he does so by personifying plates of vinyl as slaves who need to be set free.

     On Cult Status Kamachi brings the “hard, independent shit” back with more substance than most underground MCs could ever dream of possessing. Beat-wise, the apt boom-bap is usually on-point, but this album would have benefited from less sped of vocal samples and more original hooks. This is especially true on “Peddlin’ Music” where the tactic just sounds tired. Thankfully Chief Kamachi came out lyrically blasting on his full-length debut–so much so that any minor flaw is overshadowed. Some may argue that Kamachi sound too pissed off, but after listening to Cult Status, even the biggest skeptics will understand his intense demeanor.

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